PLANT CITY, Fla. — International grower and year-round marketer of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Wish Farms, announced the hiring of Brian Deese to the role of director of blueberry grower relations.
“Berries have always been my passion,” Deese said. “So I’m excited to bring that passion and drive to an already successful blueberry program. By continuing to develop and maintain our grower relationships in several key growing regions, we can ensure future development and success of the Wish Farms program.”
Deese joins Wish Farms after 12 years of service in the berry industry with California Giant.
Vice President of Bushberry Supply, Joe Powell, is looking forward to the next phase of growth.
“Brian brings a lot of experience to the table,” he said. “We are just going to keep building on the success that we have already accomplished.”
While strawberries remain its largest commodity, blueberries represent a substantial and growing portion of its business. Deese and Powell are confident that through strategic regional diversification and strictly adhering to trusted processes, Wish Farms can continue its long-term growth trend in the category.
“As Wish Farms continues to expand operationally to meet customer needs, it will be my sole focus to continue nurturing our great existing relationships with growers, while making sure we are holding true to our mission of providing the best tasting berries, year round,” said Deese.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — United Fresh Produce Association has announced the Class Two Fellows of the Produce Safety Immersion Program. The 12 fellows will begin their journey virtually during a kickoff meeting later this month.
“We’re thrilled to welcome class two of the Produce Safety Immersion Program as they begin their journey as produce safety professionals,” said Jennifer McEntire, vice president, food safety at United Fresh. “We successfully adapted class one’s program and are excited to take what we learned to effectively build the technical capacity, critical thinking skills and leadership attributes of this next class through a virtual format.”
The program combines a variety of approaches, including formal webinars, informal networking, technical seminars, group work, individual projects and problem-solving exercises, combined with mentorship. Four produce safety professionals will serve as mentors to the program fellows and will accompany them at each meeting.
Class Two Fellows:
- Kelsey Adams, Taylor Farms, Texas, Dallas, Texas
- Abraham Cardenas, Taylor Farms Fresh Vegetables, Salinas, Calif.
- Jordan DeVries, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Isabel Gomez-Garcia, Walther P. Rawl & Sons, Inc., Pelion, S.C.
- Hilal Kasapoglu, Taylor Farms, Inc., North Kingtown, R.I.
- Kaylie Lemon, Curation Foods, Santa Maria, Calif.
- Mike Lepera, Mucci Farms, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada
- Jose Morales, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., Salinas, Calif.
- Alex Morales, Jr., Prima Wawona, Reedley, Calif.
- LaTaunya Tillman, Driscoll’s, Tampa, Fla.
- Mari Villegas, Heinzen Manufacturing International, Gilroy, Calif.
- Bristol Wells, Highland Ag Solutions, Mulberry, Fla.
Early-to-mid career 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.
- Suresh DeCosta, director of food safety, North America and Latin America, Lipman Family Farms
- Natalie Dyenson, vice president, food safety and quality, Dole Food Co.
- Sergio Nieto-Montenegro, president, Food Safety Consulting & Training Solutions, LLC
- Walter Ram, vice president of food safety, Guimarra Cos.
DEERFIELD, Ill. — FoodChain ID, a provider of technology-enabled food safety, quality and sustainability solutions, has acquired Viaware, a leading cloud-based food contact risk assessment and integrated supply-chain-compliance-solutions provider.
Founded in 2013, with headquarters in the Netherlands, Viaware's primary product is FOCOS, a web-based application that helps businesses in the supply chain to manage and control compliance work and documentation. FOCOS enables food companies to manage packaging products and raw materials compliance, create customized Declarations of Compliance (DoCs), manage supporting documentation and communicate with suppliers and customers in a single application. FOCOS integrates with ERP and PLM systems.
"We are confident the Viaware team will further enhance our growing customer demand for services to market safe and healthy foods globally,” said Brad Riemenapp, chief executive officer at FoodChain ID. “With its focus on food packaging safety, Viaware is a strong strategic fit with FoodChain ID, expanding our technology-enabled services while strengthening our customer base and building on our global profile. With Viaware, we are adding scale to our business in the food safety sector while expanding our targeted portfolio through complementary, technology-enabled supply chain compliance and consulting services."
FoodChain ID will combine Viaware's FOCOS software with its gComply, gComply Plus, Supply Chain Management and Praedexi/Horizon Scanning solutions focusing on food contact regulatory compliance, safety and risk management. These combined services help businesses better understand consumer, legal and customer requirements. It also allows them to analyze complex regulations, collect supplier evidence to demonstrate compliance, expedite data collection and analysis, manage change and simplify supplied product compliance risk management.
Dr. Mitchell Cheeseman, Food and Drug Administration practice director of FoodChain ID and former official with the U.S. FDA human foods program, said: "I am very excited with our strategic expansion, which aligns with my lifelong passion for food safety. We continue to develop technology and knowledge to support Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) assessments necessary to establish compliance and market entry for food contact materials — both globally and here in the U.S."
Dr. Kris Callaert, technical director of Viaware, said, "Since our founding, we've strived to enhance technology-enabled risk assessment of customer food packaging materials. By joining FoodChain ID, we will better serve our customers with global regulatory coverage, enhanced insights, further integrated solutions, and a broader product portfolio. We are looking forward to expanding technology solutions for our customers.
Make some room on your bookshelf. “Food Fraud,” subtitled “A Global Threat with Public Health and Economic Consequences,” is a must-read for everyone from food safety and quality assurance professionals and industry members, to academics and regulatory representatives.
Co-edited by Rosalee S. Hellberg, associate professor in the Food Science Program at Chapman University, Karen Everstine, senior manager of scientific affairs at Decernis, and Steven A. Sklare, president of the Food Safety Academy, the book offers a detailed dive into a subject that touches a number of sectors of the food industry.
Chapters, such as those on fraud in herbs and spices, wine or seafood, are written by experts in those fields, and the knowledge within is organized and easily referenced, something Sklare and his co-editors were keen on accomplishing.
“While I want everybody to read the whole thing, I'm realistic that not everybody's going to,” he says. “But if there's a chapter that specifically applies to them, they'll be able to find it. It starts to give you the tools.”
We caught up with Sklare, who says the book took about two years to put together, to fill us in on why he and his co-editors wanted to release it, why food fraud is important to understand and how COVID-19 plays a role.
Quality Assurance: Why did you feel it was important for this book to come out?
Steven A. Sklare: I had been very interested in food fraud for well over 10 years, layered on top of my interest in food safety. … There’s still a lot of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge within the food industry as to what food fraud is, why it's important and why the industry should be concerned about it — and that it takes a unique set of tools in order to mitigate the vulnerability to it. When I first got to the U.S. Pharmacopeial (USP) [in 2016], the entire first year that I was there I spent explaining to very smart, typically Ph.D,-level VPs of companies that were responsible for food safety and risk, what food fraud was and how it was different from food safety. The most difficult thing was figuring out a way to make it easier for them to ask, “Well, what do I do? How do I deal with it?” Because a lot of people, if they get to a VP level in a major food company and have got a Ph.D., a lot of them have a little trouble admitting that they don't know the answer to something or asking for help.
QA: Where does that lack of knowledge come from? Why does it exist?
SS: The state of knowledge is much better now than it was before. But where it came from is that you have to remember that food fraud is something that is done intentionally, that it's committed by people. The food fraudster is a criminal, whether it's the actual company itself that is intentionally diluting a product to increase their profitability, or it's somebody that's selling ingredients into a supply chain and they're diluting it with something cheaper. They're consciously and intentionally trying to circumvent the safeguards that are in place, so their goal is to not be discovered. If they're successful, then nobody knows that they're doing it. So, a lot of them have been very successful over time.
The other is that, especially at the beginning and even to a degree today, the feeling is that if we've got all these sophisticated food safety management programs in place like HACCP or preventive controls, that that's going to take care of any potential problems. But the fact is that it doesn't, because quite often the food fraud issue may not be a food safety issue. If you've got salt, for example, that's been diluted with road salt, the only food safety program in place that would allow you to detect that would be a testing program. And you're not going to test every ounce of product that you purchase or you produce because it would be too costly to produce anything.
QA: So the big difference between food safety and food fraud is that intentionality?
SS: You have to attach to that “for economic gain,” because you can have the intentional adulteration of food for harm. And that would come under food defense. The food fraudster may end up harming many people, but that wasn't their original goal.
QA: Who is this book for?
SS: It's certainly something that we thought about a great deal when we were putting the book together. And we, the co-editors, were really in agreement that we wanted to have something that was much more than just an academic exercise or an academic reference. We wanted to put something together that would give — whether it was a high-level person or a big food company — an understanding of the basic concepts of food fraud, and then explaining why it is that they need to be concerned about it, whether it's economics, brand protection, consumer protection. … For example, if a company has unknowingly purchased ingredients that have been adulterated either by substituting a cheaper item or diluting an ingredient, and it’s discovered after the product’s out there, then that company is still going to be responsible for recalling it. They may have innocently purchased the ingredient, but they now own it.
QA: You have a note about COVID-19 in the first chapter. The pandemic started while you were already working on the book, but what’s been its impact on food fraud, and why include that note?
SS: Throughout the book, there are many of the chapters that have numerous economic forecasts and projections for the size of a market, say, for example, nonalcoholic ready drinks. They're projecting what the size of the global market will be 10 years from now and using that as part of the way to show how great an incentive there is to commit fraud. … I thought that it was necessary to say to the reader, “Please understand that all these projections, calculations were made prior to the pandemic.”
The other part is that based on our experience, meaning the editors, we saw that there would very clearly be greater opportunities for fraud to be committed during the pandemic. What's interesting about that is that if you if you do a statistical review of what's happened or what's been reported since the pandemic, it will show you that there has been a drop in reported food fraud incidents. Well, we know that there hasn't been a drop in what's actually taking place. And in fact, it's very likely that it's significantly higher. Not only are there increased opportunities, there's greater cover for those that are committing the fraud. One of the keys to mitigating your vulnerability to food fraud is having a very good handle on your supply chain. You know who your suppliers are, knowing what the history is. Well, during the pandemic, there have been numerous companies that have had to make quick emergency-type changes to who their suppliers were. So quite often, those established protocols were not followed. You're now dealing with a supplier that you don't have a 10-year history.
QA: Many chapters focus on fraud in specific food sectors, which other parts of the book will be of interest to readers?
SS: The three editors, we're really focused on trying to present a holistic approach to the problem. But we do have a chapter that's very focused on analytical detection methods, and we do have a chapter that talks about criminology by John W. Spink, who is one of the most recognizable names associated with dealing with food fraud. Even though those may not be areas that an individual in a particular company is focused on, we just want there to be as much available as a resource as possible.
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Following nearly 17 total years with AIB International, Stephanie Lopez, vice president of operations, Americas, will be departing the company next month. Lopez has chosen to venture outside the food safety industry and take steps toward what she is calling a “second career.”
“While deciding to pursue a second career has been a difficult decision, I know that now is the right time to challenge myself in pursuing this life goal. I’m departing with confidence that the global AIB International team is up to any future challenges and our customers are in good hands,” said Lopez, who will work through her last day Feb. 5. “I have such gratitude for the many mentors, colleagues and customers who have afforded me the opportunity to grow, learn, travel and build success these past two decades. Together, we’ve been able to equip our customers with knowledge and support the delivery of safe, high-quality food around the world.”
During her nearly two decades with AIB International, Lopez authored The AIB GMP and Prerequisites Guide Book; led the establishment of the wholly owned subsidiary and certification body AIBI-CS and served as its first president; developed numerous seminars and webinars, while teaching several hundred of them; and served as SME for e-learning courses HACCP Online, and AIB’s Food Safety and Sanitation Distance Learning Course.
Within the organization, Jeff Wilson has been promoted from vice president of operations, EAA, into the role of global vice president of operations, where he will be absorbing Lopez’s responsibilities. In this global role, Wilson will help focus the development of key operational initiatives, supporting both AIB’s team and customers, wherever they may be located.
“In my almost 20 years with AIB International, Stephanie has been such an incredible resource and mentor to me and countless others across the organization. She and I collaborated on so many different operations initiatives that we were given the nickname ‘Jeff-anie’ by the team, so I’ll carry fond memories of work together,” said Wilson. “In this new global role, I’ll be working to take our learnings from 2020 and put them into practice, while also focusing on the continuous improvement of our team and their service to customers. Given the composition of the team we have in the Americas, EMEA, APAC, LATAM and China, I know we are up to the task.”
Andre Biane, president and CEO of AIB International, added, “For decades, Stephanie’s work has been highly regarded by our customers and team, highlighted by her many positive contributions to the industry. While we know that her leadership will be missed, we’re also proud to support her in pursuing a life goal and trying something completely new. With Jeff now taking on this Global role, we will maintain continuity with the Operations team and customers, while also broadly implementing our strategy for future growth. I look forward to the beneficial impact his efforts will have with our operations team and how that will translate to even better service quality for our customers around the world.