Deadra Barnett of DNO Produce, Columbus, Ohio, is one of 15 fellows recently named by the United Fresh Produce Association to the Class 1 Fellows of the inaugural Produce Safety Immersion Program, which is sponsored by Renaissance Food Group at the gold level and Ecolab at the silver level.
The fellows will begin their journey at United Fresh’s FreshStart Conference, to be held Jan. 14-16 in Tucson, Ariz.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the first class of the Produce Safety Immersion Program as they begin their journey as produce safety professionals,” says Jennifer McEntire, vice president, food safety at United Fresh. “Through a variety of unique experiences over the course of next year, the class will work hard to build their technical capacity, critical thinking skills and leadership attributes.”
The program is comprised of three face-to-face training meetings, tailored webinars and ongoing mentorship. Five highly skilled produce safety professionals will serve as mentors to the program fellows and will accompany them at each meeting, including:
• 2020 FreshStart Conference (Jan. 14-16, Tucson, Ariz.)
• United Fresh 2020 Convention & Expo (June 16-19, San Diego)
• 2020 United Fresh Washington Conference (Sept. 21-23, Washington, D.C.)
Early- to midcareer professionals with less than five years’ experience in produce safety were evaluated by members of the United Fresh Food Safety Council Steering Committee based on their backgrounds, roles in the industry, career aspirations and recommendations. These budding produce safety professionals will be coached by the following mentors:
• Donna Lynn Browne, director of food safety and social responsibility, Naturipe Farms
• De Ann Davis, food safety director, Commercial Food Sanitation, a consulting and training company
• Suresh DeCosta, director of food safety, North America and Latin America, Lipman Family Farms
• Cheryl Enlow, vice president of quality assurance and food safety, Renaissance Food Group
• Walter Ram, vice president of food safety, Giumarra Cos.
“Ongoing professional development is especially crucial in produce safety, as ensuring consumers can safely consume such healthy products requires knowledge of a wide variety of processes and regulations,” Browne says. “United Fresh has always been on the forefront of all things food safety in produce, and this program is yet another great tool for the industry.”
Several United Fresh member companies, including 3M, Braga Fresh Family Farms, Ecolab, Heinzen Manufacturing, Merieux NutriSciences and Naturipe Farms, are supporting the program by hosting the class throughout the year. For more information about the program, contact Katie McGowan, United Fresh food safety coordinator, at 202-303-3402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.