WOODLAND, Calif. — Joe Pezzini is setting a personal tone for his tenure as the new chair of Center for Produce Safety’s (CPS) BB #:339618 Board of Directors.
Pezzini, senior director of agricultural operations for Taylor Farms BB #:193361, was elected chair June 23 at the CPS board directors’ annual business meeting. The 28-member board also welcomed six returning members and one new one, elected other officers for 2022-2024, and recognized several longtime volunteer leaders who retired from the group.
The Board of Directors ensures Center for Produce Safety stays focused on its mission to fund science, find solutions and fuel change in fresh produce food safety.
Six board members agreed to serve additional three-year terms:
• Jim Brennan, president, SmartWash Solutions;
• Mike Joyner, president, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association;
• Dave Murray, partner, Andrew & Williamson/Good Farms;
• Mark Mignogna, vice president, quality assurance, Sysco;
• Victor Smith, CEO, J.V. Smith Farms; and
• Craig Wilson, vice president, QA and food safety, Costco Wholesale.
Joining the CPS Board of Directors for the first time is Amy Gates, vice president of Seald Sweet/Greenyard USA.
Board directors then elected officers for 2022-2024:
• Pezzini as CPS board chair;
• Bret Erickson, senior vice president of business affairs for Little Bear Produce, as secretary; and
• Mark Powers, president of Northwest Horticultural Council as treasurer.
CPS thanked four retiring board members and volunteer leaders for their distinguished service to the organization, including Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral for Wegmans Food Markets. Corsi served as chair of the board 2019-2020, during which time he guided development of the strategic plan that has directed CPS’s work since then.
Also retiring from the Center for Produce Safety board was Doug Grant, executive vice president and COO for The Oppenheimer Group, and founding chair of CPS’s Knowledge Transfer Task Force. Under Grant’s leadership, the task force significantly expanded the ways CPS transfers its research learnings to industry and other stakeholders of fresh produce food safety.
In addition, CPS recognized retiring board members Tom Stenzel and Paul Fleming for their long-term service as CPS directors. Stenzel retired in April as co-CEO of International Fresh Produce Association, and was the long-standing president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association. Fleming is a well-known industry executive turned consultant who first joined the CPS board in 2009.
Pezzini priorities: Strategic planning, food safety culture
Pezzini reports his first priority as CPS board chair will be to guide the board’s update of the center’s strategic plan.
“In 15 short years, Center for Produce Safety has grown into an extraordinary melting pot of industry, research, regulatory and public health leaders who are doing much more together to advance fresh produce food safety than we ever could alone,” he said. “Our goal for the next five years will be to continue that positive trajectory. That means making sure that CPS can continue to innovate in how we fund science, find solutions and fuel change in produce safety.”
Pezzini underscored that produce safety isn’t just a professional goal – it’s personal to the fresh produce industry. And so Center for Produce Safety’s work must center on meeting the needs of a diverse fresh-produce supply chain.
“The food we grow and sell to consumers is the same food we take home to our families. Our work doesn’t get more personal than that,” Pezzini said. “Food safety should be the number one thing we do. Center for Produce Safety helps us get there.”
About Center for Produce Safety
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit Center for Produce Safety (CPS) focuses exclusively on funding science, finding solutions and fueling change in fresh produce food safety. The center is a unique partnership, bringing together leaders from industry, government, and the scientific and academic communities. CPS funds credible, independent research worldwide, then transfers that knowledge and tools to industry and other stakeholders through an annual Research Symposium, its website, webinars, trade press guest columns and other outreach. Since it was founded in 2007, Center for Produce Safety has invested more than $36 million to fund produce-specific safety research. For more information, visit www.centerforproducesafety.org.