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    Welcoming Johnna Hepner

    Julia Stewart:
    Hi, this is PMA PR Director Julia Stewart, and welcome back to PMA’s audio blog, “Ask Dr. Bob” with PMA’s Chief Science and Technology Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker. Bob, we’ve got fantastic guest with us today as we welcome PMA’s new Director of Food Safety and Technology, Johnna Hepner.

    Bob:
    That’s right Julia, we’re really pleased to have her join our team. Johnna joins PMA from Markon Cooperative in Salinas, where she was food safety director. Previously she served as producer buyer and quality assurance manager for Markon from 1993 to 2003, and before that as quality assurance manager for National Pre-Cut Produce in Salinas from 1991 to 1993. You can see that Johnna has a great deal of practical experience that we can draw on to benefit our members.

    We brought Johnna on board to reflect PMA’s ongoing commitment to the area of food safety and technology. Right now there is a tremendous amount of activity around food safety, and we want to ensure we have the right staffing to meet our members needs. We are indeed fortunate to be able to add Johnna and add her depth and breadth of experience. Welcome to our team, Johnna.

    Johnna:
    Thank you, Bob. I’m excited to join PMA and to be able work with you and our key members in the areas of food safety and technology. I’m looking forward to using my real-world experience to benefit the members of PMA and the industry as a whole.

    Bob:
    Johnna’s responsibilities will include monitoring, evaluating and collaborating on produce-specific food safety guidance and standards development, as well as legislation and regulation. She will also represent the association to our members, commodity groups and allied industry organizations, as well as with external groups including federal regulators and legislators. We especially want to leverage Johnna’s extensive experience with small and medium sized growers andprocessors to help them better implement food safety programs in an efficient and cost effective manner. 

    Julia:
    Johnna, what does your past experience allow you to bring to PMA and our members?

    Johnna:
    I have a diverse background including quality assurance, processing, and food science, as well as food safety – that gives me a well-rounded approach to many of the issues, and will provide depth for our members to draw from. My strong buyer perspective in working directly with grower/shippers in the U.S. and abroad has enabled me to effectively communicate the issues our members deal with on a daily basis. All this, combined with your experience, Bob, really gives us a comprehensive approach.

    Bob:
    Another thing you bring to PMA, is a valuable balance between practical working knowledge of production and processing, and knowledge of food safety. It benefits our members to have that kind of real-world perspective. You’re someone who has been in the field and the processing plants…you’ve seen these programs at work and have firsthand understanding of how they fit.

    Julia:
    Bob, how will our members directly benefit from having Johnna join our team?

    Bob:
    Julia, it’s so important that we can reach out to all our members. There are so many activities going on now on the policy front, program implementation, and our educational efforts with members. Having Johnna on board gives us the ability to be even more actively engaged with our members. We see a lot of value in being able to increase our outreach to member groups around the country.

    As we’ve already said, she brings a very well rounded approach to food safety and technology, and is very familiar with both sides of the equation, buyer and supplier. She has a background in quality assurance and food science as well, and perhaps most importantly, she brings a passion for doing things right when it comes to food safety and technology.

    Johnna:
    I like that word, passion. I do have a passion for food safety, and I hope to be able to relay that to our members.

    Julia:
    Thank you, Bob and Johnna. We’ll look forward to hearing more from both of you in the future.

    For more information on Johnna or our food safety activities, please go to our website www.pma.com.

    Thank you, listeners, for joining us.

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