Pundit Interviews

Pundit Letters





Perishable Pundit
P.O. Box 810425
Boca Raton FL 33481

Ph: 561-994-1118
Fax: 561-994-1610


email:
info@PerishablePundit.com

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American Food & Ag Exporter

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Perishable Interviews

2007

Jeff See
Executive Director
OCIA International
Lincoln, Nebraska

TAGS: organic, China, Chinese, standards, water, waste, inspectors, OCIA, See, Japan, certification, pollution, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Too Many Concerns Still Exist Over Organic Certification In China highlights an important issue that we’ve have dealt with this year: food safety and China. A frequent question we receive from the buying end of the industry has been for information on the quality of Chinese organic certification. Many retailers tell us quietly that they have stopped importing fresh produce from China. They are not overly concerned about Chinese food safety, but the items — especially in produce — that are imported are so minimal, they don’t view it as worth any risk. We wanted to learn about organic certification in China, so we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to talk with one of the U.S. firms handling organic certification in China: OCIA International. Yet, the interview is unlikely to reassure those with doubts about the true nature of Chinese organics. 12/21/2007

Alberto Martinez
Owner
Top Line Specialty Produce
Los Angeles, CA

TAGS: Martinez, Top Line Specialty Produce, basil, FDA, recall, salmonella, Herbthyme Farms, food safety, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Fresh Basil Recall Brings Additional Concerns About FDA’s Safety Procedures reports that as we head into Christmas, here is little gift the industry could have done without: “Top Line Specialty Produce Recalls ‘Green Paradise’ Basil Because of Possible Health Risk.” Feeling that our mozzarella, tomato and basil salad with balsamic vinaigrette might be at risk, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to find out more from Alberto Martinez, Owner of Top Line Specialty Produce. 12/21/2007

Chris Boyles
Technical Director of Retail, Food Safety Division
Steritech Group
Charlotte, North Carolina

TAGS: retail, audits, Steritech, food safety, auditing, temperature, training, cold chain, supermarket, Boyles, WGA, Western Growers, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

A Closer Look At Retail Safety Audits reports that when Western Growers Association issued an announcement challenging the Food Safety Leadership Council and its demands for different food safety standards, it also pointed out: “the consortium has not provided the fresh produce industry with its own set of good handling practices that demonstrate that consortium members are properly handling fresh produce after receipt of produce from fresh produce suppliers.” We were alerted to a third-party company named Steritech that has been performing these temperature audits and were obviously interested to learn more about their program, so we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to speak with this company and learn more about what it offers the trade from Chris Boyles, Technical Director of Retail in the Food Safety Division of Steritech Group. 12/19/2007

Tanios Viviani
President Global Innovation and Emerging Markets and Chief Marketing Officer
Chiquita Brands International
Salinas, California

TAGS: Viviani, Chiquita, Fresh Express, innovation, salad, merchandising, consumer, technology, supply chain, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Chiquita’s Tanios Viviani reports Chiquita has had a tough year and has decided to reorganize. We’ve been talking to Tanios Viviani, who was President of Chiquita’s subsidiary company, Fresh Express, since the spinach crisis. He was the key man to decide that Fresh Express would not join the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and then the key man to decide that it would. Tanios was also one of our Single Step Award winners. We asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to check back in with Tanios — both to learn more about changes in his specific role as a result of the restructuring and to help the broader industry wrestle with the business issue of how a company can optimally organize to obtain its goals. 12/14/2007

Abraham Barno
Agricultural Attaché
Kenya High Commission
London, United Kingdom

Michael Mandu
Trade Officer
Kenya High Commission
London, United Kingdom

TAGS: food miles, Kenya, carbon, emissions, air-freighted, Barno, Mandu, High Commission, soil association, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Misperceptions Of Food Miles Affect Countries Like Kenya Hardest mentions we have written before about “Food Miles” and the notion that air freight of fresh produce is a pernicious contributor to global warming. There are two immediately obvious problems with both food miles and the anti-airfreight movement: First, plucking out any particular link in the supply chain is meaningless. Second, even if it was established that air-freighted product resulted in higher carbon output than locally grown product, that hardly seems determinative. Developing countries depend on the export of agricultural products to sustain people. Are they simply to be dispensed with to obtain some hypothetical slowdown on global warming? We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to see what we could learn from the Kenya High Commission’s Agricultural Attaché Abraham Barno, and Trade Officer Michael Mandu. 11/21/2007

Michael Batycki
Senior Business Manager, Fresh Produce
Woolworths
Bella Vista, New South Wales, Australia

Luke Dunkerley
General Manager Marketing
Woolworths
Bella Vista, New South Wales, Australia

TAGS: Australia, Woolworths, Kids, commercials, campaign, consumption, Fresh Food Kids, ads, Dunkerley, Batycki, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Woolworths Supermarkets In Australia Promotes Kids’ Produce Consumption reports that a series of TV commercials is running in Australia promoting increased childhood consumption of fresh foods. The commercials also reinforce the positioning of Australian supermarket chain, Woolworths, who billed themselves as ‘The Fresh Food People’. When we heard about the TV campaign, and its focus on kids and fresh foods, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to see what else we could learn. Mira first spoke with Michael Batycki, Senior Business Manager, Fresh Produce at Woolworths. Michael was kind enough to introduce us to the key contact on the Woolworths Fresh Foods Kids initiative, and Mira discussed the program with him, Luke Dunkerley, General Manager Marketing at Woolworths. 11/2/2007

Guy Witney
Director of Industry Affairs
California Avocado Commission
Irvine, California

Dave Kranz
Manager Media Services
California Farm Bureau Federation
Sacramento, California

Eric Larsen
Executive Director
San Diego County Farm Bureau
Escondido, California

Dan Legard
Director of Research
California Strawberry Commission
Watsonville, California

Michael Spinazzola
President
Diversified Restaurant Systems (DRS)
San Diego, California

TAGS: avocado, California, fire, damage, crop, San Diego, growers, acres, strawberry, Spinazzola, Legard, Larsen, Kranz, Witney, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

California Fires Hit Avocados Hardest; Lush Avocado Acreage A Firebreak Spares County From Worse Damage comments that it is always difficult to gauge the impact on the industry in the midst of a natural disaster, so we’ve been standing by for more clarity. Then, the Associated Press came out with a bizarre report exaggerating the possible damage to the avocado crop. According to Guy Witney, Director of Industry Affairs at the California Avocado Commission, the AP report that 20,000 acres lost is not accurate. He says there are 24,000 acres total in the county, unimaginable that the loss was 80 percent of total. Likely 10 to 20 percent, perhaps 5,000 to maybe 8,000 acres are damaged on the high side. In order to gain some clarity, we asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to speak with several individuals who could help provide insight as to what the situation really is. 10/26/2007

Tim York
President
Markon Group
Salinas, California

TAGS: food safety, growers, buyers, tomato, spinach, Markon, leafy, marketing, buyer-led, York, outbreak, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Tim York of Markon shares this, the final piece in our series of interviews with the winners of the Perishable Pundit’s Single Step Award. We mentioned in our announcement of the winners that the award was inspired by the well-known quote from Lao-Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The award applauds the efforts the winners have made in beginning the trade’s effort to recover from the spinach crisis of 2006. We asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to speak with a man who took the weapon of “buyer power” and made it a tool used in service of the trade’s efforts on food safety: Tim York, President of Markon Group. 10/24/2007

Tanios Viviani
President
Fresh Express
Salinas, California

TAGS: food safety, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, spinach, Fresh Express, standards, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Tanios Viviani Of Fresh Express details how we have been running a series of interviews with the winners of the Perishable Pundit’s Single Step Award. We mentioned in our announcement of the winners that the award was inspired by the well-known quote from Lao-Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The award applauds the efforts the winners have made in beginning the trade’s effort to recover from the spinach crisis of 2006. We asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to speak with a man who, though a relative newcomer to the produce trade, held the decisive card in the prospects for a successful roll-out of the California Marketing Agreement: Tanios Viviani, President of Fresh Express. 10/19/2007

Bruce Taylor
Founder, Chairman, and CEO
Taylor Farms
Salinas, California

TAGS: Food Safety, foodservice, spinach, retailers, farms, Salinas, Taylor, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Bruce Taylor Of Taylor Farms our ongoing series of interviews with the winners of the Perishable Pundit’s Single Step Award continues. As we mentioned in our announcement of the award, the award was inspired by the well-known quote from Lao-Tzu — “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and it applauds the efforts the winners have made in beginning the trade’s effort to recover from the spinach crisis of 2006. Today, Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, spoke with a man who was born to the industry but has built things his grandfather could scarcely imagine: Bruce Taylor, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Taylor Farms. 10/18/2007

Jim Nowlin
Assistant Director, Citrus Fruit and Vegetable Division
Arizona Department of Agriculture
Phoenix, Arizona

Shelly Tunis
Legal Consultant/Attorney representing
Yuma Fresh Vegetables Association
Yuma, Arizona

Matt McInerny
Executive Vice President
Western Growers Association
Irvine, California

AnnaMarie Knorr
Arizona Government Affairs Analyst
Western Growers Association
Irvine, California

Scott Horsfall
CEO
California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
Sacramento, California

Joe Pezzini
Vice President Operations
Ocean Mist Farms
Chairman
California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
Castroville, California

Eric Schwartz
President
Dole Fresh Vegetables
newly elected Committee member Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
Salinas, California

TAGS: Arizona, California, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, standards, metrics, growers, shippers, signatories, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Arizona Marketing Agreement One Step Closer To National Leafy Green Standard explains that before the California Leafy Greens Agreement was even authorized, it was obvious that only the inclusion of nearby Arizona would create the possibility of it being acceptable to many consumer advocates. Now, the plan that Western Growers Association has promoted, to start with a marketing agreement in California, then add Arizona and then — as we discussed here — expand to a national marketing agreement, is moving onto the Arizona implementation stage. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to speak with a range of people involved in development of what is officially entitled the Arizona Leafy Greens Products Shippers Marketing Agreement Marketing Committee. 10/18/2007

Eric Schwartz
President
Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc.
Salinas, California

TAGS: food safety, Dole, Schwartz, spinach, California Marketing Agreement, leafy, greens, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Eric Schwartz Of Dole Vegetables continues our ongoing series of interviews with winners of the Perishable Pundit’s Single Step Award. The award was inspired by the well-known quote from Lao-Tzu — “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — and recognizes the efforts the winners have made in beginning the trade’s effort to recover from the spinach crisis of 2006. Today, Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, spoke with a man for whom the spinach crisis was not just an “industry” problem, Eric Schwartz, President of Dole Fresh Vegetables. 10/12/2007

Jane Proctor
Director of Industry Technology and Standardization
CPMA
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tom Stenzel
President
United Fresh Produce Association
Washington, D.C.

Bruce Peterson
President & CEO
Naturipe Farms LLC
Naples, Florida

Bryan Silbermann
President
Produce Marketing Association
Newark, Delaware

TAGS: PMA, CPMA, traceability, technology, initiative, supply chain, standards, food safety, marketing, Proctor, Silbermann, Peterson, Stenzel, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

PMA, CPMA And United Form Traceability Initiative the issue of traceability has been a top priority for the industry ever since the spinach crisis, when the urgency of food safety concerns was added to the long term interest in traceability for supply chain management, efficiencies, best practices, etc. Now, in a rare joint announcement, Bryan Silbermann, President of PMA, will use the occasion of his annual presentation to issue a major call to action on traceability. In order to find out more about this important step we asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to talk with some of the key players in bringing this about. 10/12/2007

Joe Pezzini
Chairman, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board
Vice President of Operations
Ocean Mist Farms
Castroville, California

TAGS: Standards, agreement, chairman, marketing, leafy greens, food safety, Ocean Mist, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Joe Pezzini of Ocean Mist Farms continues our series of interviews with winners of the Perishable Pundit’s Single Step Award. We were pleased to announce the winners here of the Perishable Pundit’s Single Step Award. It was inspired by the well-known quote from Lao-Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and acknowledges the efforts the winners made in beginning the trade’s effort to recover from the spinach crisis of 2006. Today, Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, spoke with a man who, by virtue of position, had an opportunity to become a leader on food safety — and he seized that opportunity: Joe Pezzini, Vice President of Operations at Ocean Mist Farms and Chairman of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board. 10/10/2007

Mike O’Brien
Vice President Produce
Schnuck Markets
St. Louis, MO

TAGS: O’Brien, Schnuck Markets, food safety, award, buyer led, California Leafy Greens Agreement, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Mike O’Brien Of Schnuck Markets writes that we were proud to announce the winners of the Single Step Award. The award honors those who have made a special contribution to the trade’s efforts to improve food safety. The award both commemorates the work done to date and provides inspiration for the journey still ahead on the road to better food safety. All the honorees spoke to the Pundit about their experience with food safety. We will be running daily interviews with the honorees. Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor conducted the discussions. We began this series with an interview with Dave Corsi of Wegmans and continue the series today. 10/9/2007

Bob Keeney
Deputy Administrator for Fruit and Vegetable Programs
Agricultural Marketing Service
Washington D.C.

Jimmie Turner
Public Relations Specialist Fruit & Vegetable Programs
Agricultural Marketing Service
Washington D.C.

TAGS: marketing, order, agreement, California, greens, leafy, food safety, growers, Keeney, Turner, AMS, USDA, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

USDA Explores Possible National Marketing Order For Leafy Greens… But Are We Ready? revisits how last July we ran a piece entitled, Pundit’s Mailbag — National Marketing Orders And Agreements, in which we discussed differences between marketing agreements and marketing orders and the difference between both of these approaches and mandatory regulation.

We reached out to USDA officials for additional information. Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott spoke with Bob Keeney, Deputy Administrator for Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Ag Marketing Service (AMS) to get some details. 10/5/2007

Dave Corsi
Vice President Produce
Wegmans Food Markets
Rochester, New York

TAGS: food safety, spinach, greens, marketing, Wegmans, Corsi, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Single Step Award Winner — Dave Corsi Of Wegmans Food Markets kicks off our interviews with the winners of the Pundit’s “Single Step” Award, by asking Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to speak with our first honoree (alphabetically): Dave Corsi, Vice President of Produce for Wegmans Food Markets. Congratulations to Dave, and thank you for taking the “single step” to help the industry get started on the road to a bright future that includes the safest fresh produce possible. 10/5/2007

Pam Peri
Executive Vice President
Peri & Sons Farms
Yerington, Nevada

Tim Cummings
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Peri & Sons Farms
Yerington, Nevada

Russell Wedlake
General Manager and Safety and Training Officer
Silverado Ranch Supply
Yerington, Nevada

Ed Foster
Regional Manager, Plant Industry Division
Nevada Department of Agriculture
Sparks Nevada

TAGS: media, safety, workers, chemical, fumigant, gas, chloropicrin, Peri, lettuce, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Peri & Sons Talks To Pundit About Ag Chemical Incident laments how one minute Peri & Sons Farms is celebrating its ability to grow 150 acres of different lettuces in Nevada’s Mason Valley. Next thing you know, the company suddenly finds itself the focus of headlines: “Field Gas Irritates 125 Farm Workers”. These were H2A guest workers and part of a very large guest worker program at Peri & Sons. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to learn more and find that the lessons for the broader industry are clear: the importance of emergency planning and reminds us that we cannot expect that others — rescue workers, the media, etc., — will have an understanding of agriculture unless we make it our job to educate them. There is little point in blaming the media. 10/4/2007

Eric Schwartz
President
Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc.
Salinas, California

TAGS: Dole, recall, CFIA, Canada, E. coli, lettuce, leafy, salad, Schwartz, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Dole’s Schwartz Sheds More Light On Recent Recall learned that recently the Canadian Food Inspection Agency had identified E. coli 0157:H7 on “Dole Hearts Delight” salad mix. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to again speak with Eric Schwartz, President of Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., in order to gain more perspective on the situation. We yearn for a “kill-step” yet Eric Schwartz says irradiation is not ready and, even if it was, it is problematic. We think we need to accelerate research in this area. 9/21/2007

Eric Schwartz
President
Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc.
Salinas, California

TAGS: Dole, recall, California, Canada, E. coli, lettuce, leafy, salad, Schwartz, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Dole Hit With Another Recall remarks that just after we reminded ourselves of the one-year mark since the Spinach Crisis began — noted in Spinach Crisis, One Year Later — we get a knot in the stomach and a sense of déjà vu when we learned about a problem with a Dole brand blend of romaine, green leaf and butter lettuces in Canada. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Eric Schwartz, President of Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. We spoke with Eric late in the evening Monday night. That conversation followed a long line of events, which we detail here. It is too early to say too much for certain, but we have some initial observations. 9/18/2007

Dr. Mansour Samadpour
Founder, Principal
IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group
Lake Forest Park, Washington

TAGS: testing, food safety, Samadpour, recalls, E. coli, salmonella, E. coli O157, spinach, IEH Laboratories, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

A Closer Look At Finished Product Testing thinks few issues are more contentious… or more important to the industry than finished product testing and we’ve received many responses lately in regards to our recent coverage of this issue. Clearly any recalls because of presumptive positives are a real problem for the industry. Yet many food safety experts and companies known for stringent food safety protocols are concerned about testing. To learn more about the subject, we asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor to speak to a microbiologist and founder of a food safety company who became well known to many in the produce trade when, in the aftermath of the Fall 2006 spinach crisis, Natural Selection Foods turned to him for assistance in revising its food safety program: Dr. Mansour Samadpour, Founder and Principal with IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group. 9/7/2007

Fremont Lawrence
Communications Manager
Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company
Windward Islands

Dr. Marshall Hall
Chairman
Banana Export Company of Jamaica
Director
Jamaica Producers Group
Kingston, Jamaica

TAGS: banana, Jamaica, hurricane, Dean, damage, Fairtrade, Hall, Banana Export Company of Jamaica, Caribbean, Windward Islands, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Hurricane Dean Wreaks Havoc On Banana-Producing Islands explains we’ve typically discussed the Caribbean banana trade in reference to Fairtrade — the movement to pay a “social premium” to growers in one place. Sainsbury’s in the UK is 100% Fairtrade on bananas, and many of those come from St. Lucia and Dominica, both hard hit by Hurricane Dean. Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dean, there is homelessness and human suffering, a banana industry producing a fraction of what it once did, with an even more uncertain future. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to find out more from Dr. Marshall Hall, Chairman of the Banana Export Company of Jamaica and Director of the Jamaica Producers Group and Fremont Lawrence, Communications Manager with the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company. 8/31/2007

Bob Hana
CEO
Los Angeles Salad Company
City of Industry, California

John Shaughnessy
Quality Assurance and Food Safety Manager
Los Angeles Salad Company
City of Industry, California

TAGS: Shaughnessy, Hana, food safety, recall, testing, audits, Los Angeles Salad Company, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Lessons From Carrot Recall: Los Angeles Salad Company Execs Share Their Experience our piece, Costco Recalls Mexican Grown, U.S. Packed Baby Carrots From Canadian Stores, was written as the Shigella outbreak was just being reported. In the confusion, we incorrectly stated that the carrots were grown in Mexico and packed in the U.S. In fact, they were both grown and packed in Mexico. To understand what happened and to see if there are broader industry lessons to be learned, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to find out more from Bob Hana, CEO, and John Shaughnessy, Quality Assurance and Food Safety Manager at Los Angeles Salad Company. Los Angeles Salad is a serious company, with a serious food safety program. Although the promise to increase testing and other efforts are valued, we see a few other key points. 8/31/2007

Unnamed Spokesperson
FDA
Washington D.C.

TAGS: FDA, recall, Metz fresh, sick, testing, salmonella, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

FDA Official Reveals Agency’s Role In Food Safety Recall once word of the Metz Fresh recall on spinach broke, press reaction was predictable. One article quoted Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy initiatives at the Consumers Union, as faulting the produce industry for resisting mandatory government regulations. We are not sure who Jean Halloran thinks is resisting mandatory regulation, since both United and PMA have endorsed mandatory regulation. However, since it is not here yet, we thought it sensible to analyze the exact role the FDA actually plays in this type of food safety issue. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to try and learn more. Our source at the FDA asked to be identified simply as “spokesperson” in accordance with FDA protocol. The bottom line is that now that United and PMA have endorsed mandatory regulation, we better do something about it because the FDA’s comments make it clear that the agency is not prepared to preemptively protect the health of Americans. 8/31/2007

Greg Larsen
Spokesperson
Metz Fresh
King City, California

TAGS: recall, positive, spinach, salmonella, test, Metz Fresh, testing, Larsen, bagged, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Recall Of Metz Fresh Spinach Shows Lessons Still Not Learned laments that just when it looked like the Salinas spinach season might pass without incident, we received notice of a problem: Metz Fresh announced a voluntary recall of spinach after tests showed the presence of Salmonella. We immediately asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to learn more. Greg Larsen, a spokesperson for Metz Fresh was working late into the night. When we first heard of the recall, we thought we could point to it as a sign of progress. After all, the industry is now catching these things itself, not waiting for sick customers to speak from hospital beds. Yet now we are not so sure. 8/30/2007

Richard Waycott
President and CEO
Almond Board of California
Modesto, California

Mark Kastel
Senior Farm Policy Analyst
Cornucopia Institute
Cornucopia, Wisconsin

Will Fantle
Research Director
Cornucopia Institute
Cornucopia, Wisconsin

TAGS: almonds, California, pasteurization, food safety, USDA, steam, Waycott, Kastel, Fantle, Cornucopia, Board, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Point/Counterpoint: Raw Foods Advocates Get Steamed About Pasteurized Almonds our piece, Pundit Pulse Of the Industry: California Almond Board, was run as part of our series on how food safety is playing out beyond leafy greens. It’s a case study in how an industry can use a marketing order to impose mandatory food safety requirements — in this case the imposition of mandatory pasteurization of almonds. Consumer awareness of the plan has grown as the implementation date has approached, leading “raw food” advocates to object it. An advocacy group, the Cornucopia Institute, has been particularly outspoken. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak to Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst and Will Fantle, Research Director with the Cornucopia Institute and Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board of California to help us better understand the controversy. 8/23/2007

Dr. Ron Voss
Former Extension Vegetable Specialist and Manager, Specialty Crops Research Program
University of California
Davis, California

TAGS: Chinese, China, garlic, food safety, testing, organic, retailer, problems, Voss, UC Davis, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Expert On Chinese Garlic Weighs In On Food Safety Issue reports that as we got deeper into the controversy regarding produce from China and, specifically, garlic from China, we were appreciative when Jim Provost, of I Love Produce, suggested we could get some truly independent insight into the issue by speaking with Dr. Ron Voss, Extension Vegetable Specialist Emeritus and Manager of the Specialty Crops Research Program at the University of California, Davis. Jim describes Dr. Voss as the “leading garlic expert in the world,” having worked both extensively with the California industry and producers around the world, including China. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to see if Dr. Voss could help us get to the bottom of the controversy over Chinese produce and garlic. 8/16/2007

Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, EdD, R.D.
Vice President, Nutrition and Health
United Fresh
Washington, D.C.

TAGS: program, school, kids, health, nutrition, DiSogra, United, snack, fruits, vegetables, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — United’s Lorelei DiSogra describes Lorelei DiSogra, VP of Nutrition and Health at United Fresh as a woman with a mission: to carry the torch of good health through increased produce consumption during the long marathon of building support in the public health and education communities, the journalistic, policy and regulatory communities and the legislature. With the recent passage of a bill to expand the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program to all 50 states on a pilot basis, her career stands at a pinnacle and the dream she has nurtured for a generation appears within reach. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Lorelei at this crucial moment in both her career and in the use of produce as part of a public health initiative. 8/2/2007

Michael McCartney
Founder and Principal
QLM Consulting
Sausalito, California

TAGS: traceability, retailer, data, standards, produce, safety, McCartney, QLM, FDA, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Getting A Better Grasp On Traceability discusses how our piece, Bruce Peterson Focuses On Traceability detailed this basic point: that the produce industry is more likely to reduce the negative impact of food safety problems by enhancing traceability than through any other single measure. To find out how we might make this happen, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to speak with Michael McCartney Founder and Principal of QLM Consulting so we could better understand the collaboration between Bruce and Michael and so we could fill in the details about the challenges ahead. 7/19/2007

Bob Keeney
Deputy Administrator for Fruit and Vegetable Programs
Agricultural Marketing Service
Washington D.C.

Jimmie Turner
Public Relations Specialist Fruit & Vegetable Programs
Agricultural Marketing Service
Washington D.C.

TAGS: marketing order, agreement, California, greens, leafy, food safety, growers, Keeney, Turner, AMS, USDA, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Mailbag — National Marketing Orders And Agreements reminds that our correspondent today has written to us before. Today, however, Dan Cohen raises an important issue on which there has been much confusion. What is the next food safety step for the industry after the California Marketing Agreement? Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott spoke with Bob Keeney, Deputy Administrator for Fruit and Vegetable Programs, for the USDA Ag Marketing Service (AMS) as well as Jimmie Turner, Public Relations Specialist Fruit & Vegetable Programs, for additional information. 7/18/2007

Mark Arney
CEO, Executive Director
National Watermelon Promotion Board
Orlando, FL
Leslie Coleman
Director of Communications
National Watermelon Promotion Board
Orlando, Florida

TAGS: Watermelon, marketing order, food safety, consumers, Arney, Coleman, regulation, commodity, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Watermelon Industry Creates Food Safety And Crisis Management Guidelines covers how we’ve been running a project here at the Pundit to learn what different commodity groups and geographical sectors are doing to enhance food safety. Now we try something different… we look at the watermelon industry, which, almost uniquely, has a national association and a national marketing order. To learn how this industry is addressing the issue of food safety, we asked Pundit Investigator and special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to see what we could learn from Mark Arney, CEO and Executive Director and Leslie Coleman, Director of Communications at the National Watermelon Promotion Board. 7/12/2007

Kaarin Goodburn
Secretary General
Chilled Food Association (CFA)
Kettering, UK

TAGS: food safety, Goodburn, chilled food association, retailers, standards, audits, traceability, E. coli, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Chilled Food Association’s Kaarin Goodburn comments how we here at the Pundit have scoured the world looking to learn what we can about food safety from other countries. Now we have asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Kaarin Goodburn, Secretary General of the U.K.-based Chilled Food Association, who offers some insight into the UK’s built-in traceability, irradiation and organics. 7/4/2007

Richard Waycott
President and CEO
Almond Board of California
Modesto, California

TAGS: almonds, pasteurization, food safety, California, Waycott, salmonella, kill step, spinach, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit Pulse Of The Industry: California Almond Board asks that, with so much effort expended on California lettuce and leafy greens, an obvious question has been what can various segments of the industry do to get ahead of the game. We’ve run a project here at the Pundit to look at what different commodity groups and geographical sectors are doing to enhance food safety. Now we turn to almonds, a particularly intriguing exploration because the Almond Board of California is using a marketing order to impose mandatory regulation. We wanted to see what was behind it and how it would work, so we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to see if she could find out more from Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board of California. 6/22/2007

Bruce Axtman
President and CEO
The Perishables Group
Chicago, Illinois

TAGS: category, data, consumer, retailers, management, Axtman, Perishables Group, byerly’s, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: The Perishables Group’s Bruce Axtman recalls that at the United Fresh show in Chicago, we were intrigued by a panel moderated by Steve Lutz of the Perishables Group that was focused on how consumers perceive organics sold in conventional grocery stores. You can read the piece we wrote about the workshop here. We thought it would be worthwhile to learn more about the kind of work the Perishables Group is doing. It has long been a leader in category management in the fresh foods arena, benefiting significantly from an alliance with AC Nielsen. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to learn more from Bruce Axtman President and CEO of The Perishables Group. 6/20/2007

Bruce Peterson
President
Peterson Insights and former Senior VP Perishables, Wal-Mart
Bentonville, Arkansas

TAGS: Traceability, Peterson, spinach, food safety, marketing, growers, foodservice, retailer, E. coli, Peterson Insights, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Bruce Peterson Focuses On Traceability when the press release arrived advising that Bruce Peterson had entered into a collaboration with Michael McCartney, Principal of QLM Consulting, to promote a traceback effort for the produce industry, we wanted to find out more. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to speak with Bruce. What is nice about this interview is to learn that Bruce, after having left Wal-Mart, still continues to focus on industry-wide initiatives. 6/8/2007

Robin Abodeely
School Nurse
Dr. Norman W. Crisp Elementary School
Nashua, New Hampshire

TAGS: school, kids, produce, children, nutrition, healthy, Abodeely, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

School Nutrition Success Cries For Research our piece, Getting Kids To Choose Healthy Snacks, detailed the interaction of two generations of the Hunt family with issues surrounding getting children to eat fresh produce. It also brought a note from Dave Parker of Fruit Patch Sales, LLC, who described meeting an award winner at the Produce For Better Health meeting and who he thought had a story worth hearing about her work in helping children make healthy food choices. Well, a recommendation from Dave Parker is good enough for this Pundit. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to give Robin Abodeely, School Nurse at Dr. Norman W. Crisp Elementary School, a call so we could catch up on this program. 6/6/2007

John Baillie
President
Jack T. Baillie Co., Baillie Family Farms and Tri-County Packing
Salinas, California

TAGS: spraying, Monterey, pesticide, Baillie, farmland, drift, California, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Jack T. Baillie’s John Baillie mentions that we first ran Pesticide Spraying Gets More Attention and that was followed by Pundit’s Mailbag — Green Acres Is The Place To Be?!? These pieces were both focused on pesticides, not so much as an issue on produce but an issue related to the movement of people to rural areas and the intersections between people and farms. After we ran those pieces, John Baillie called to let us know how California had been wrestling with these issues. We’ve spoken to John numerous times before, including this piece that focused on food safety and, in the midst of the spinach crisis, a poignant piece we called In Defense Of Salinas. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with John about pesticide drift and the issue of residential encroachment on farmland. 6/5/2007

Stacia Levenfeld
Spokesperson
Albertson’s LLC
Boise, Idaho

David Baldwin
Vice President Sales & Marketing
PakSense
Boise, Idaho

TAGS: PakSense, temperature, technology, monitoring, Albertson’s, food safety, label, Levenfeld, Baldwin, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Albertson’s LLC Experiments With New Temperature Monitoring Technology received a release pointing out that Albertsons LLC is still out there and doing some interesting things, including requiring temperature monitoring devices on all inbound produce to its distribution centers, with the preferred monitor being PakSense TXi™ Smart Labels by PakSense, Inc. To learn about this program, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with both Stacia Levenfeld, a spokesperson for Albertson’s LLC, and David Baldwin, Vice President Sales & Marketing for PakSense, the creator and marketer of the device. 5/25/2007

Mark Degner
President and CEO
FreshLook Marketing Group
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

June Fenzel
Vice President of Product Management
IRI
Chicago, Illinois

TAGS: retailers, category management, perishables, data, consumers, marketing, IRI, Freshlook, Degner, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: FreshLook’s Mark Degner And IRI’s June Fenzel in our piece Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Willard Bishop Consulting’s Bill Bishop, Bill Bishop described IRI and FreshLook Marketing Group as doing some interesting things with category management, including perishables. A little competition amongst these players is good for the soul, so if IRI and FreshLook Marketing Group are becoming more active, we wanted to see what they had to say to the industry. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to speak with Mark Degner, President and CEO of FreshLook Marketing Group and June Fenzel, Vice President of Product Management with IRI so we could understand better what they are attempting to do in the perishables arena. 5/24/2007

Thom Blischok
President, Retail Solutions North America & Strategic Consulting
Information Resources, Inc. (IRI)
Atlanta, Georgia

TAGS: Category management, retailers, vendors, IRI, segmentation, localization, organic, merchandising, consumer, A&P, Blischok, Retail Solutions North America, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Information Resources’ Thom Blischok our piece Willard Bishop Consulting’s Bill Bishop included this quote from Bill Bishop: “…for some period of time AC Nielsen was out in front by itself in category management including perishables. Now, there is a strong initiative on the part of IRI to win a piece of that business.” We wanted to learn more about IRI’s interest in this field and thoughts on category management and retailing, so we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Thom Blischok, President of Retail Solutions North America & Strategic Consulting, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), to find out more. Thom certainly has his arms around many of the hot buttons in retailing today. We take a few points to be especially valuable. 5/23/2007

Bill Bishop
Founder and Former President now Chairman
Willard Bishop Consulting
Barrington, Illinois

TAGS: category management, Willard Bishop, retailers, producers, software, sustainability, Bishop, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Willard Bishop Consulting’s Bill Bishop heard that earlier this year Willard Bishop, well known as a food industry consultancy, announced a management transition in which Bill Bishop was giving up day-to-day managerial tasks to focus on providing strategic guidance and thought leadership for the firm’s clients and the industry at large. Bill Bishop has really been an institution in the industry, and we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to find out more from Bill himself, the Founder and Former President now Chairman of Willard Bishop Consulting. Bill is always intriguing and from this brief interview we take five key points. 5/22/2007

Rob Robson
CEO
OneHarvest
Carole Park, QLD, Australia
Felicity Robson
Corporate Marketing Manager
Carole Park, QLD, Australia

Paul Jackson
Site Technical Manager
Carole Park, QLD, Australia

David Rigby
Microbiologist
Carole Park, QLD, Australia

Charlene Binder
Site Technical Manager
Carole Park, QLD, Australia

TAGS: food safety, standards, testing, Australia, retailers, growers, Woolworths, E. coli, OneHarvest, Robson, Jackson, Rigby, Binder, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — OneHarvest’s Rob Robson And His Food Safety Team remarks how as an industry, we need to be relentless in our search for solutions. Most food safety experts believe the answer to food safety concerns is more likely to be found in a limited number of processing plants than in thousands of farms all across the world. So today, we travel ‘down under’ to speak to the largest fresh-cut processor in Australia, OneHarvest. With OneHarvest dealing with customers as stringent on food safety as Woolworth’s every day, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to see what we could learn from OneHarvest’s CEO, Rob Robson, who gathered some of the key people on his food safety team for a round table discussion on food safety. 5/11/2007

David Murdock
Chairman and CEO
Dole Food Company
Westlake Village, California

TAGS: Dole, research, North Carolina, fresh-cut, salad, Dole Nutrition Institute, E. coli, University of North Carolina, Duke University, Murdock, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Dole Food Company’s David Murdock reports that last month Dole launched its $54 million East Coast processing and distribution facility in Bessemer City, North Carolina. But another major development close by and close to Chairman and CEO David Murdock’s heart is also underway. It is the Dole Nutrition Institute at the North Carolina Research Campus, a life sciences hub in Kannapolis, North Carolina. At the salad packaging plant opening, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott had the opportunity to sit down with David Murdock to learn more about his vision for The Dole Nutrition Institute, and especially its associated research laboratory. 5/10/2007

Robert Guenther
Senior VP Public Policy
United Fresh Produce Association
Washington, D.C.

Dave Gombas, PhD
VP Scientific & Technical Affairs
United Fresh Produce Association
Washington, D.C.

Benjamin Blount, PhD
Chief, VOC and Perchlorate Laboratory
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Washington, D.C.

Charles Sanchez
Director and Professor of Soil
Water and Environmental Sciences
University of Arizona Yuma Ag Extension Service
Yuma, Arizona

TAGS: perchlorate, iodine, water, thyroid, women, health, exposure, Boxer, Feinstein, bill, contamination, E. coli Guenther, Gombas, Blount, Sanchez, University of Arizona CDC, United, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Perchlorate Issue Is Percolating writes that in January of this year, U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced two bills that aim to set standards for perchlorate, a chemical used widely in a variety of industrial processes and found in water supplies nationwide. The first bill requires EPA to establish a health advisory and a standard for perchlorate contamination in drinking water supplies by the end of the year. The second bill requires drinking water to be tested for perchlorate and mandates public notice if the chemical is found. We sent Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott out to get an update from several key industry figures and learn more about how this issue impacts the produce industry. 5/4/2007

Jo McDonald
Technical Services Manager
British Retail Consortium
London, UK

TAGS: standards, McDonald, retailers, food safety, British, spinach, E. coli, British Retail Consortium, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Would British Retail Consortium Standards Have Prevented The Spinach Crisis? highlights the British Retail Consortium, a rough equivalent to the Food Marketing Institute in the U.S., has a well known post-harvest food safety protocol that has been adopted by all major British retailers and by many retailers around the world. How did this come about? Why have retailers been so aggressive in the United Kingdom and so hesitant to act in the United States? Most were not even willing to restrict their supply chains to signatories of the California Marketing Agreement. To find out more we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Jo McDonald at the British Retail Consortium. 4/13/2007

Craig Delaney
Executive Vice President-Chief Financial Officer
Ready Pac Foods
Irwindale, California

TAGS: Bayside, Univeg, capital, investment, Ready Pac, letter of intent, LOI, Delaney, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Ready Pac/Bayside Deal Leaves One Wondering What Happened To Univeg describes how one of the wackiest deals in the produce industry keeps getting wackier. After months of negotiations, Univeg announced at Fruit Logistica in Berlin that it had signed a letter of intent to buy Ready Pac, an event we analyzed here. Typically these types of announcements are made jointly, but Ready Pac was stone silent for weeks. We actually sat on the story for a week until we could find someone from Ready Pac to confirm the letter of intent existed. Now Ready Pac issues a statement without mentioning the Letter of Intent or Univeg and says it has received an investment from a private equity firm named Bayside Capital. We wanted to find out more, so we asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to get clarification from Craig Delaney, Executive Vice President-Chief Financial Officer at Ready Pac Foods. 4/12/2007

Ed Beckman
President
California Tomato Farmers
Fresno, California

TAGS: food safety, California, standards, tomato, farmers, regulation, growers, buyers, marketing, Beckman, California Tomato Farmers, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Moving Food Safety On To Other Commodities: California Tomato Farmers Raise The Bar discusses how since the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement has taken effect, there is a danger the industry will relax on food safety. Even if the Marketing Agreement is successful at solving the problem for leafy greens, it still covers just one state’s commodity group. Tomatoes have long been an area of regulatory concern with food safety and one of the more proactive groups has been the tomato industry. Recently a group comprised of the largest California tomato growers announced the establishment of a group called California Tomato Farmers. To learn more, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to interview Ed Beckman, President of California Tomato Farmers, an industry veteran who goes back decades with the tomato industry and who is serving as President of this new initiative. 4/4/2007

Dr. Laurence Swan
Managing Director for R&D
Fyffes
Dublin, Ireland

TAGS: program, children, vegetables, fruit, schools, Ireland, consumption, government, Food Dudes, Swan, Fyffes, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit Pulse Of The Industry: Fyffes’ Dr. Laurence Swan reports the Produce for Better Health Foundation has launched its Fruits & Veggies — More Matters campaign with a special focus on mothers and that the PMA has dedicated $500,000 in support. The PBH and PMA efforts are important, but they are just pieces of the puzzle and, as an industry, we need to be searching for other efforts that might make a difference. One of the most interesting of these programs is called Food Dudes and it has been so successful in pilot projects that the government of Ireland has elected to roll it out nationally. We asked Pundit investigative reporter and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to interview an influential player on the supply side: Dr. Laurence Swan, Managing Director for R&D at Fyffes, and advocate in bringing the Food Dudes program to fruition in Ireland. 3/22/2007

Terrance Powell
Director
Los Angeles County Department of Environmental Health

TAGS: food safety, retail, market, wholesale, water, inspection, 7th Street Market, Powell, Los Angeles County, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Lessons From Los Angeles: Food Safety And Security Are Everyone’s Problem explains that ever since an NBC affiliate in Los Angeles produced a segment on the horrible conditions at LA’s 7th Street Market, we’ve carefully monitored the story and tried to learn more. There is a tremendous temptation to dismiss a story like this if your company is not directly involved. That would be a mistake. To use the horror story of the 7th Street Market as an instructional aid for the whole industry, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with the governmental official in LA responsible for public health, Terrance Powell, Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Environmental Health. 3/20/2007

Fergus Lowe
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, co-founder of the Food Dude Programme
University of Wales
Bangor, UK

Michael Maloney
Director of Horticulture and Quality
Board Bia (The Irish Food Board)
Dublin, Ireland

TAGS: program, children, vegetables, fruit, schools, Ireland, consumption, Food Dudes, Lowe, University of Wales, Maloney, Board Bia, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Food Dudes Beat Junk Punks And Kids Eat More Produce an interesting and important program is now rolling out in every school in Ireland with the goal of increasing produce consumption in children. The program is called Food Dudes and it is not your conventional promotional program. In fact, the Irish government decided to stop a three-year pilot that the Irish produce industry was contributing to — mid-way — and roll it out nationally because the research was so convincing that this program was working. We asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor to learn more about this exciting program from Fergus Lowe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales, Bangor, and co-founder of the Food Dudes Programme, and Michael Maloney, Director of Horticulture and Quality at Board Bia (The Irish Food Board), who took the lead in building the program at primary schools across the country. 3/7/2007

Lee Frankel
President
Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
Nogales, Arizona

TAGS: CDFA, California, Mexican, inspection, avocados, border, USDA-APHIS, shipment, Frankel, Fresh Produce Association, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Fresh Produce Association Of The Americas’ Lee Frankel finds the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas is pretty riled up over the attitude of the California Department of Food and Agriculture toward many Mexican produce items, releasing a statement titled: “California Ag Agency Causing Trade Disruptions”, citing inspection errors and inconsistencies at border stations. What is really going on? Is this protectionism or is this bureaucratic ineptitude? We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to learn more from Lee Frankel, President of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. 3/2/2007

Kix McGinnis Nystrom
Vice President of Kitchen Operations
The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants
Calabasas Hills, California

Jack McShane
CEO, Founder
Everclean Services
Atoura, California

TAGS: food safety, training, restaurant, compensation, chain, audit, Nystrom, Cheesecake Factory, McShane, Everclean, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Cheesecake Factory’s Kix McGinnis Nystron Everclean Services’ Jack McShane writes that today we are pleased to continue our series on procedures at foodservice operators with a different perspective. Food safety discussions in the industry have tended to stop in the processing plant. Yet food safety challenges continue right up to when the product is consumed. So we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Kix McGinnis Nystrom, whose position at the Cheesecake Factory is not Buyer or Quality Assurance but Vice President of Kitchen Operations. Mira also spoke with Jack McShane, CEO and Founder of Everclean Services, which acts as an independent auditor and trainer for The Cheesecake Factory. 2/28/2007

Marty Ordman
Vice President Marketing and Communications
Dole Food Company
Westlake Village, California

Chip Goodman
Chief Executive Officer
School Link Technologies (SL-Tech)
Santa Monica, California

TAGS: school, vending, Dole, kids, children, fruit, technology, consumption, Ordman, Goodman, School Link Technologies, SL-Tech, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Dole Introduces Unique Vending Machine Concept finds that many times we assume that to increase consumption of fresh produce the key is marketing, but substantive improvements in a product also can help build demand. Produce industry people often don’t think this way because they perceive “new products” as “new varieties” and out of their control, but the product that the consumer buys is surrounded by services, and an improvement in those services can be as important and as substantive an improvement in the consumer offer as a new fruit or vegetable. So we were excited when Dole announced a pilot program to make healthy food more accessible to children with a unique vending machine concept. To learn more about the program, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott spoke with several key players: Marty Ordman, VP of Marketing and Communications for Dole Food Company and Chip Goodman, CEO for School Link Technologies. 2/21/2007

Eric Schwartz
President
Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc.
Salinas, California

TAGS: Dole, plant, salad, testing, bagged, food safety, E. coli, Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, Schwartz, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Dole Vegetables’ Eric Schwartz in this time when everyone keeps saying that bagged salad demand is depressed, Dole sent an announcement that it is expanding, announcing the opening of a new bagged salad plant in North Carolina. To learn more about the plant and where it fits into the larger role Dole plays in the industry — especially Dole’s food safety program, in light of its announcement that it had signed the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement for spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens — we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to learn more from Eric Schwartz, President of Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. in Salinas, California. 2/9/2007

Dale Hollingsworth
Corporate Produce Buyer
Costco
Issaquah, Washington

TAGS: spinach, Costco, testing, vendors, food safety, cold storage, Hollingsworth, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Costco’s Dale Hollingsworth our piece Consumer Studies On Spinach Reviewed… And Costco’s Proactive Approach included a reference to a USA Today article in which Costco publicized its insistence that suppliers product test spinach. To better understand Costco’s product testing regimen, we asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to find out more from Dale Hollingsworth, Corporate Produce Buyer for Costco. Dale identifies one of the key problems as space to store all of this product while it is being tested, one wonders, though, if a good logistics approach couldn’t significantly ameliorate the problem. 2/8/2007

Joanne Torres
Sales & Marketing Vice President
Pacifica Farms
Los Angeles, California

TAGS: fresh, flowers, freeze, perishable, California, production, floral, Valentine’s Torres, Pacifica, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Mailbag — Fresh Flowers And The Freeze reports we’ve been getting some requests for information on how the freeze may affect fresh flowers in California. The Pundit is pleased to report that Valentine’s Day will arrive on schedule. To get the lowdown, we asked Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, to speak to the people at the California Cut Flower Commission. 2/2/2007

Mark Newton
Managing Director
Florette UK
Staffordshire, UK

TAGS: food safety, watercress, standards, market, standards, testing, salmonella, Newton, Florette, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Florette UK’s Mark Newton ran a piece once we learned American-grown watercress, marketed under the Florette brand, had been recalled in Ireland due to suspected Salmonella. It is our policy to not leave things hanging too long, so we spoke to the folks who market under the Florette label to gain more insight into what happened and get a little background on their operation. Food safety is a sensitive topic, so much credit is due to the people at Florette for being willing to speak forthrightly. In doing so, they show themselves to be good corporate citizens willing to help the whole industry advance in this crucial area. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to obtain some additional information from Mark Newton, Managing Director of Florette UK. 2/2/2007

Reggie Brown
Manager
Florida Tomato Committee
Executive Vice President
Florida Tomato Exchange & Florida Tomato Growers Exchange
Maitland, Florida

TAGS: food safety, regional, tomato, Florida, research, marketing, order, research, Brown, Tomato Exchange, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Florida Tomato Committee’s Reggie Brown explains that the Florida Tomato Committee lost its battle to restrict sales of UglyRipe Brand tomatoes, but a more important long-term battle is to assure trade buyers and consumers safe product and, on that score, the industry is working hard to succeed. This interview, conducted by Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott, is part of a continuing series highlighting food safety efforts made by regional groups such as the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and commodity-specific groups such as the California Strawberry Commission. Today we hear from Reggie Brown, Manager of the Florida Tomato Committee and Executive Vice President of the Florida Tomato Exchange & Florida Tomato Growers Exchange. 1/23/2007

Joe Procacci
CEO
Procacci Brothers
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

TAGS: Procacci, tomato, UglyRipe, marketing, shape, Florida, Identity Preservation Program, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

UglyRipe Tomatoes Now Available Year-Round the Pundit has been writing about the saga regarding the UglyRipe brand tomato for over two years now. Now comes word that the UglyRipe is to be available year round. A new USDA rule amends the Florida Tomato Marketing Order to exempt the UglyRipe from the shape portion of the USDA grade standards as long as the UglyRipe is grown, packed, and distributed under USDA’s Identity Preservation Program (IPP). The IPP uses the unique genetic fingerprint of a produce variety to assure that it is in fact the product claimed by its grower. The industry owes a big debt to Joe Procacci, not only for developing a tomato that addresses consumer complaints about tasteless fruit but for having the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a mostly very status quo-oriented industry. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with Joe Procacci about the IPP. 1/23/2007

James “Bo” Reagan, Ph.D.
Chairman
Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCO)
Centennial, Colorado

TAGS: E. coli, beef, food safety, BIFSCO, processing, produce, research, Reagan, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: Beef Industry Food Safety Council’s James “Bo” Reagan points out the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative is endorsed by a substantial number of important buying organizations and is driving a great deal of food safety activity across the produce trade. Recently, it identified an organization outside the produce industry that was doing what it wanted to see done in produce. Yet most in the produce industry know little if anything about BIFSCO. What is it? How did it come about? How does it help the beef industry? To learn more, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to find out what we could about the organization and its relevancy to enhancing food safety in the produce industry from James “Bo” Reagan, Ph.D., Chairman of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council. 1/22/2007

Carolyn O’Donnell
Issues and Food Safety Manager
California Strawberry Commission
Watsonville, California

Bob Blakely
Director of Grower Services
California Citrus Mutual
Exeter, California

Claire Smith
Director of Corporate Communications
Sunkist Growers
Sherman Oaks, California

Bob Martin
General Manager
Rio Farms
King City, California

TAGS: fruit, freeze, crop, California, damage, citrus, Sunkist, O’Donnell, Blakely, Smith, Martin, Rio Farms, California Citrus, California Strawberry Commission, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Freeze Report explains the freeze is bad news for many in the produce industry and we’ll be analyzing it as the situation clarifies. The key with freezes is that you can lose some crop and as long as you still have a significant amount to sell, the crop losses can be ameliorated with higher prices. This assumes of course that no foreign producer is ready to zoom in and prevent tremendous price increases. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott to gather some information as to the extent of the damage from Carolyn O’Donnell, Issues and Food Safety Manager with the California Strawberry Commission; Bob Blakely, Director of Grower Services at California Citrus Mutual; Claire Smith, Director of Corporate Communications at Sunkist Growers and Bob Martin, General Manager of Rio Farms 1/17/2007

John Baillie
President,
Jack T. Baillie Co., Baillie Family Farms & Tri-County Packing
Salinas, CA

TAGS: Baillie, Baillie Family Farms, Tri-County Packing, GAP, Tanimura & Antle, food safety, grow, grower, process, flood, Salinas, Kolb, High Sierra, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry: John Baillie Talks About GAPs And T&A finds that among the more stalwart defenders of the grower and of the Salinas Valley is John R. Baillie of the Jack T. Baillie Co., Baillie Family Farms and Tri-County Packing. Now Tanimura & Antle, a company John grows for, has come out with some new food safety rules that growers are expected to follow. To learn more about these rules and how growers perceive them, we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor Mira Slott to speak with John. 1/17/2007

Mark Murai
President
California Strawberry Commission
Watsonville, California

TAGS: food safety, California, strawberry, commission, irradiated, outbreaks, Murai, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

California Strawberry Industry Moves To Make Food Safe the California Strawberry Commission was already running hard on food safety, and created a new Issues and Food Safety Committee to build on its pre-existing Food Safety Program. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to find out more from Mark Murai, President of the California Strawberry Commission. Efforts such as theirs will make food safer. Many in the industry think the world really won’t find any outbreaks acceptable and so they endorse “kill steps,” such as irradiation. 1/12/2007

Charity Schneider
Account Manager
Tosca Ltd
Green Bay, Wisconsin

TAGS: spinach, curly, leaf, consumers, savoy, baby leaf, FDA, Schneider, Tosca, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Making The Case For Curly Spinach admits the Pundit has never understood why the FDA included curly leaf, or savoy, spinach in its recommendation not to consume when it is a distinctly different product than the baby leaf bagged spinach that was implicated. Clearly others also think it is important to develop an independent identity for this product as there is a new consortium that has come out with a new website for consumers: www.curlyleafspinach.com. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to learn more from Charity Schneider, Account Manager with Tosca Ltd. In an act of enlightened self-interest, Tosca, which supplies “industry-specific, returnable containers,” recognized it could help its customers and itself at the same time. 1/10/2007

Al Murray
Director of the Division of Marketing and Development.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture
Trenton, New Jersey

TAGS: food safety, spinach, standards, growers, Produce Safety Task Force, New Jersey, Murray, Department of Agriculture, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit Pulse — New Jersey Dept of Ag’s Al Murray exemplifies New Jersey as one of the most proactive states for food safety initiatives. Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, found that the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services announced formation of a Produce Safety Task Force “to protect New Jersey consumers and help local producers adapt to anticipated new produce-safety standards in the wake of several recent outbreaks of food-borne illness.” One central aspect is how food safety standards could be linked to use of the Jersey Fresh marketing campaign. Al Murray, NJDA Director of the Division of Marketing and Development said: “One of the things we feel is that while new standards and protocols may be coming down from the federal government, locally grown has been a huge byproduct of what happened with recent outbreak events. We see linking food safety to Jersey Fresh marketing as an opportunity for our growers. We want to help shape policy.” 1/10/2007

Rick Johnson
Senior Vice President of Supply Systems
Ruby Tuesday
Maryville, Tennessee

TAGS: food safety, suppliers, outbreaks, spinach, E. coli, Johnson, Ruby Tuesday, Perishable Pundit, Jim Prevor, Mira Slott

Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Ruby Tuesday’s Rick Johnson writes that as part of our effort to better understand food safety procedures at foodservice operators we’ve run a series of Pundit Pulses. Now Mira Slott, Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, interviews Rick Johnson, Senior Vice President of Supply Systems with Ruby Tuesday for our first “grill and bar” concept. With a more diverse menu than a quick-service restaurant and a large scale, with company stores and franchises, Ruby Tuesday faces a range of food safety challenges. 1/4/2007

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