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Center for Produce Safety welcomes 2023-2024 board leaders

The Center for Produce Safety logo.

WOODLAND, Calif. — Center for Produce Safety welcomed its 2023-2024 board of directors at that group’s recent virtual meeting. Board chair Joe Pezzini of Taylor Farms hailed three new directors and seven returning ones, and bade farewell to three long-time directors.

Joining Pezzini as 2023-2024 CPS board officers are secretary Bret Erickson of Little Bear Produce, treasurer Mark Powers of Northwest Horticultural Council, and past chair Vic Smith of JV Smith Companies. The board’s Executive Committee includes the four officers, as well as Natalie Dyenson of International Fresh Produce Association and Dave Murray of Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce/Good Farms.

CPS’s 27 board members represent a broad range of produce safety stakeholders, including the fresh produce supply chain, academia, state and national governments, and the public health community. Directors serve three-year terms.

“Year in, year out, these hard working, visionary leaders ensure that Center for Produce Safety stays laser-focused on our mission: fund science, find solutions, fuel change,” said Pezzini. “I thank them all for generously giving their time and resources to support CPS.”

Three leaders joined CPS’s board for the first time:

  • Larry Kohl of Retail Business Services, the services arm of retail group Ahold Delhaize
  • Carter McEntire of southeastern fresh-produce processor McEntire Produce
  • Michael Taylor, Esq., board member emeritus of the nonprofit STOP Foodborne Illness, and former Food and Drug Administration deputy commissioner for foods and medicine

Six board members were re-elected to new terms:

  • Jim Lugg, industry consultant
  • Pezzini
  • Powers
  • Dave Puglia, Western Growers
  • Tim Riley, The Giumarra Companies
  • Michael Spinazzola, DRS International

Pezzini recognized two retiring board members for their long-time service:

  • HMC’s Steve Kenfield, elected to the board in 2018
  • Martha Roberts, food safety and ag policy consultant and former deputy commissioner of Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, on CPS’s board since CPS was founded in 2007.

Pezzini thanked IFPA’s Max Teplitski for his prior service on the CPS board.

Pezzini prioritizes knowledge transfer

Beginning his second year as board chair, Pezzini reported he plans to continue to expand and hone CPS’s work to transfer research learnings to industry and other stakeholders.

That knowledge transfer starts with CPS’s annual Research Symposium each year, Pezzini noted; he said it continues with a broad mix of outreach activities including webinars, research update emails, videos, social media and columns in trade media outlets.

 “Our mission statement starts with ‘fund science, fund solutions’. It ends very intentionally with the words ‘fuel change’,” said Pezzini. “Because the science we fund and the solutions we find only matter when we can inspire change that protects our consumers, and our industry.”

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