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CEA Food Safety Coalition appoints Tom Stenzel as executive director

Tom Stenzel CEA Food Safety Coalition

August 1, 2022 — The Controlled Environment Agriculture Food Safety Coalition (CEA FSC) today announced that it has retained The Stenzel Group LLC to provide management services, with the appointment of former United Fresh Produce Association President & CEO Tom Stenzel as its new Executive Director.

The CEA FSC was formed in 2019 to serve as a forum for leafy greens growers in high-tech greenhouses and indoor vertical farms to educate and share best practices with regulators, customers, and fellow indoor growers. Its first priorities were to develop credible, strong, and appropriate food safety standards and communicate the value and benefits of controlled environment agriculture to the broader industry and ultimately to the consumer.

Controlled environment agriculture takes a technology-based approach to produce optimal growing conditions inside controlled environments such as greenhouses and indoor vertical farms. Plants are typically grown year-round using hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic methods, unaffected by climate or weather, and without the need for pesticides.

Stenzel will now work with the Board to develop strategic and business plans to take the coalition to the next level in serving the controlled environment agriculture sector in the produce industry.

“Tom’s almost 30 years’ experience leading United Fresh and the recent combination with the Produce Marketing Association to form the International Fresh Produce Association makes him an outstanding leader to help us evolve our mission beyond just food safety and leafy greens to serve the broader controlled environment agriculture category,” said Marc Oshima, Co-Founder of AeroFarms and Board Chair of the CEA FSC.

“I’ve worked with many of these companies since their start-up,” Stenzel said. “I’ve seen their potential, and am now watching their impact grow daily, as consumers and retailers alike embrace their role as high-quality, sustainable, safe, and local producers. I’m excited to help this sector expand its impact.”

Stenzel succeeds Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, former USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety who recently resigned as CEA FSC Executive Director.

“Elisabeth did a great job building on our core food safety platform and has set the stage for more expansive growth to service the broader controlled environment agriculture industry, and we will miss her leadership and expertise,” Oshima said.

About the CEA Food Safety Coalition
The CEA Food Safety Coalition was founded in 2019 to represent the interests of CEA leafy greens growers in developing credible and appropriate food safety standards while educating consumers and regulators alike on the value of controlled environment agriculture. The CEA Food Safety Coalition is headquartered in Washington, DC and represents companies with facilities and distribution throughout the United States. Founding members include AeroFarms, Bowery Farming, BrightFarms, Little Leaf Farms, Plenty, Revol Greens, and Superior Fresh.

In 2021, the CEA FSC rolled out its CEA Leafy Greens Module developed with GLOBALG.A.P. The Leafy Greens Module is measured against science-based criteria and is an add-on to existing compliance with an underlying Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety standard. Traditional food safety risk profiles include examining the physical hazards and microbial hazards from water use, herbicide and pesticide use, and impact from animals and animal byproducts, many elements that do not impact CEA growers in the same way, if at all.

The CEA Leafy Greens Module enables CEA growers to distinguish produce grown indoors while ensuring the highest standard of quality and compliance is achieved. In addition to overseeing development and revisions to the CEA Leafy Greens Module and Seal, the Coalition’s mission has included spearheading research and development that supports the industry and championing CEA-grown produce as a critical component of safe and secure domestic food supply.

CEA Food Safety Coalition Media Contact:
Marc Oshima, Board Chair CEA Food Safety Coalition