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Food Safety Leadership & Culture

United Fresh Produce Safety Immersion Program 

The United Fresh Produce Safety Immersion Program is a year long program for newer produce safety professionals comprised of 3 face to face meetings/trainings, and 3 webinars, and an ongoing mentor program, with the objective of building the technical capacity of the fresh produce industry. 

Several highly technical produce safety professionals will serve as mentors to the cohort and will accompany them at each meeting. Mentors may also serve as instructors. Each mentor will showcase how to evaluate a peer-reviewed scientific publication and/or will prepare a short research-based evaluation of a topic relevant to produce safety and will provide constructive feedback to participants as they present similar work.

Target Participant

Early to mid-career professionals with less than 5 years’ experience in produce safety.  The program serves any size company, any point in the supply chain, open to any country.

Enrollment is limited to 20 individuals and requires an application online, with selection guided by a subset of the Food Safety & Technology Council.  Individuals that are selected will pay a tuition of $8995, which includes hotel accommodations during the trips.

Program Details

(note: agenda topics are subject to change based on the composition and interests of the cohort)

Orientation: FreshStart Conference, Jan 2020

  • Introductions to each other and mentors
  • Overview of the year ahead
  • Goal setting

Webinar 1: Back to the Basics of Micro

  • Bacteria, viruses, parasites
  • Growth factors
  • Cell structure (DNA, RNA, ATP)
    • Application to ATP swabs, WGS, etc.

Experience 2: Microbiological Testing; Location TBD; Tentatively the week of April 20, 2020 (2-3 days)

  • Overview of testing methods (culture, DNA, RNA based)
  • Sample preparation and handling (influence of buffers, sanitizers, temperature)
  • Statistics of sampling
  • Hands-on micro experience (plates, petri film, PCR, etc.)
  • 1-2 Mentor examples of journal club or research reports

Webinar 2: Chemicals, Chemistries and Antimicrobials (2-3 days)

  • EPA vs FDA regulation of chemicals
  • Pesticides, fungicides, rodenticides
  • Safety, toxicity, and MRL establishment

Experience 3: Using Food Safety Tools; Location TBD; Tentatively the week of July 20,­­­, 2020 (2-3 days)

  • Water chemistry and monitoring
    • Mechanisms of action
    • Influential parameters and validation
    • Preharvest vs postharvest water management
  • Assessing new technology
  • Pilot plant swabbing
  • Trending data, use of software
  • Communicating results to upper management
  • 1-2 Mentor examples of journal club or research reports

Webinar 3: Regulations & Standards

  • US regulations: FDA, USDA, states (Food Code)
  • Global regulations (CFIA, EFSA)
  • Global harmonization
    • Codex (governmental)
    • ISO, GFSI (private)

Experience 4: Washington DC, Fall 2020 (in conjunction with the Washington Conference)

  • Meet with FDA
    • Outbreak investigation process
    • Root cause analysis
  • Meet with food law attorneys
    • Liability
  • Comparison of private food safety audit standards
  • Present journal club or research projects
  • Presentation to FS&T Council
  • Graduation from the program