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Fourth IFPA Produce Safety Immersion Program gets underway


March 20, 2023 Washington, DC – With providing food safety expertise and business solutions as one of its strategic commitments, the International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962 (IFPA) recently welcomed the fourth cohort from a variety of IFPA member companies to its Produce Safety Immersion Program.

Sponsored by Calavo Growers and EcoLab, the 6-month program consists of a mix of virtual and in-person education opportunities designed to develop the technical capacity, critical thinking skills, and leadership attributes of the next generation of produce safety professionals.

“IFPA has long advocated that produce safety is not something you add on to your business; rather it is the entire way you do business. It is a cultural imperative that permeates throughout an organization,” said IFPA Chief Food Safety and Regulatory Officer Dr. Jennifer McEntire. “The investment these eight IFPA member companies have made in strengthening the skills of their food safety professionals shows their organizational commitment to food safety as well as talent development.”

Thirty-eight companies have invested in building their food safety capacity since the Produce Safety Immersion Program’s inception in 2020.

Participating in this year’s program are:
• Stephanie Anderson, Food Safety Coordinator, Potandon Produce
• Maria Castaneda, Quality & Food Safety Manager, Diamond Onions
• Alex Castaneda, Field Food Safety Compliance Supervisor, Grimmway
• Betsy Handelman, Director of Food Safety and Compliance, Produce Alliance
• Charles Meadows, Food Safety Manager, L&M Companies
• Sarah Ann Scarborough, Quality Assurance Supervisor, Grimmway
• Haley Strange, Food Safety Manager, Plenty
• Ana Valladares, Food Safety Supervisor, Naturipe Farms

In addition to the program curricula, immersion program fellows also have access to peer-to-peer networking and mentorship connections.

“What’s really interesting is that two of the three mentors for this cohort are alumni from the first class of 2020,” added Dr. McEntire. “This reinforces the value the program delivers and highlights the mentors’ desire to give back to an initiative that helped them early in their careers.” Since 2020, 38 different companies within the produce supply chain have invested in building their company’s food safety capacity.

Serving as mentors are:
• Deadra Barnett, Quality & Sanitation Manager, DNO Produce
• Kinsey Clishe, Food Safety Manager, North Bay Produce, Inc.
• Richard Warsaw, Vice President, Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Braga Fresh Foods, LLC

“As a graduate of Class One of the IFPA Produce Safety Immersion Program, I can attest that it was incredibly valuable for my career by strengthening both hard science and soft skills that are necessary to excel in a produce safety role. Class 4 will gain not only technical knowledge to improve their critical thinking and produce safety skills but will also participate in professional development and networking opportunities to foster more confidence in their roles,” said Kinsey Clishe, Food Safety Manager at North Bay Produce, Inc., and mentor for Class 4.

In the weeks ahead, industry will be introduced to the 2023 IFPA Produce Safety Immersion Program cohort through interviews shared via the IFPA Food Safety Fridays short video series that cover a diverse assortment of produce safety topics and issues.

The immersion program is one of many development opportunities IFPA member and industry food safety professionals can access.

Other programs include:

• Listeria Management for the Produce Industry Certificate Program
• Produce GAPs Harmonized Standard Auditor Training
• Produce Inspection Training Program
• Recall Ready Workshop

Additional IFPA food safety resources can be found in the association’s robust Online Learning Academy as well as the food safety area of the IFPA website.

About the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)
The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)?is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain and the only to seamlessly integrate world-facing advocacy and industry-facing support. We exist to bring the industry together to create a vibrant future for all. We grow our member’s prosperity by conducting advocacy; connecting people and ideas; and offering guidance that allows us all to?take action?with purpose and confidence.? While IFPA is built on the legacy of United Fresh and Produce Marketing Association, it is not just a combination. It is transformational. Recognizing the industry required an even more powerful and unified voice, the leaders of the former United Fresh and Produce Marketing Association chose not to merge, but rather to create an entirely new organization to supersede their organizations, effective January 1, 2022.

Contact: Siobhan May, +1 (302) 781-5855