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    Food Safety a Priority at Fresh Summit Workshops

    Julia Stewart:

    Hello, this is PMA PR Director Julia Stewart, and welcome back to PMA’s audio blog, “Ask Dr. Bob” with PMA’s Chief Science & Technology Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker. Bob, food safety is a priority produce industry issue and a priority focus for PMA. It will be at the forefront when PMA’s 2010 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition convenes October 15 through 18 in Orlando, Florida.  Can you tell us a bit more about what we’ve got planned this year?



    Julia, food safety will be a key theme of our Fresh Summit educational programming, both in the form of workshops and in a new Food Safety Solutions Center that will be right on the trade show floor. Let’s talk about the workshops first, and then spend some time on the Food Safety Solutions Center.


    We’ve got several fantastic workshop sessions lined up to examine food safety from different angles. These workshops will feature the latest on food safety, help answer questions and deliver business solutions. One unique presentation looks at it from the sales and marketing side in the session “Are Your Business Practices Putting Your Company at Risk?” I’m speaking at this one, and I’ll help attendees understand that some common practices actually put their companies at greater risk for a foodborne illness outbreak. I’ll also teach them how to better protect your company and how to help your company’s food safety efforts.


    Another national hot topic is local sourcing, but many buyers are now asking how they ensure local produce is safe. This will be one of the discussions in the session “Keeping it Local: The Pros and Cons of Local Sourcing.” We’ve got a great panel including Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral operations for Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Rich Dachman, vice president of produce for Sysco Corporation and Michael Spinazzola, president of DRS Inc.,  which handles purchasing for Subway restaurants.



    Two very interesting and timely topics for sure! What about the research side of things?



    Well, as you know Julia, PMA founded the Center for Produce Safety along with Taylor Farms, the University of California at Davis, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and in late 2007. And we actively support CPS’ work – for example, I chair the CPS technical committee that directs the center’s research program. Back in June, CPS presented results of eleven CPS-funded research projects were presented along with interactive real-world discussion at the first ever Produce Research Symposium.


    In Orlando, Fresh Summit attendees will have a chance to hear all about the next generation of research results from the Center for Produce Safety and their real-world relevance in the session “Research to Real-World: The Best of Food Safety Innovations,” which I will moderate. Industry members won’t want to miss this chance to hear about the very latest produce food safety research and its application for their business.


    Given the value that CPS and this research provide to our industry, I have to take a minute here to thank all our Gold Circle contributors whose generous financial support helps fund this important research work. If you’re interested in becoming a part of our Gold Circle: Campaign for Food Safety and helping bring to reality the research our industry desperately needs, you can find more information on our website. Just type “gold circle” into the search box on the home page.



    You’re absolutely right, Bob. Our Gold Circle supporters are essential to the progress we’re making in the food safety arena.


    Speaking of progress, what about traceability?



    That is such a vital issue right now, we’ve dedicated two workshop sessions to it.  “Traceability in the Real World” and “From the ‘How’ to the ‘Why’: A New Look at Traceability” will both provide constructive information and insight into this topic. Attendees will find out where the industry is with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), why it’s important to them, and how they can overcome identified challenges. PMA’s new vice president of supply chain efficiencies, Ed Treacy, will be involved in both of those workshops.



    Bob, there certainly are a multitude of opportunities for finding food safety information and solutions at Fresh Summit. Let’s take a break and come back to talk about the Food Safety Solutions Center next time.


    Listeners, if you’d like more information on these sessions or on registering for Fresh Summit, please log onto our website www.pma.com and look for the Fresh Summit link under Events and Conferences.

    Thank you for joining us.










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