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United Fresh Supports Produce Safety Pipeline

Jun 02, 2021

Today the United Fresh Produce Association announced its continued commitment to the future of produce safety professionals with the addition of two part-time summer interns and complimentary registration to the produce safety track of Reimagine Conversations for all undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in produce safety.

“As a food science student, I had no idea of the career possibilities outside of the laboratory, and very little understanding of the relevance of my studies to the produce industry,” explains Dr. Jennifer McEntire, senior vice president food safety & technology at United Fresh. “Twenty years ago an internship changed the course of my career path, and I am grateful that United Fresh is willing to expose students to the variety of topics and issues associated with a career in produce safety.”

Ms. Karuna Kharel is currently completing her doctoral studies in food science and technology at Louisiana State University where she serves as a trainer for the Produce Safety Alliance Grower training and Preventive Controls Qualified Individual course. She has conducted research on the die-off of E. coli on watermelon, pathogen inactivation during thermal treatment of in-shell pecans, and supported a USAID-funded program to provide GAP technical assistance to officials in Guyana. During her summer internship, she will support the development of resources and fact sheets on Whole Genome Sequencing, review the public health and industry burden of Cyclospora, and develop best practices for remote audits in consultation with a volunteer workgroup.

Ms. Jenna Tsvayg, a rising junior studying food science at Penn State University, will help United Fresh update information regarding buyer acceptance of the Harmonized GAP audit standard. She will also help position United Fresh staff and members to respond to FDA’s proposed rule addressing requirements for agricultural water as part of the Produce Safety Rule, in anticipation of it being released this summer. After conducting microbial food safety research at Penn State during her freshman year and taking a food law course this spring, Jenna is leaning toward a career that combines food law and food safety.

United Fresh has a longstanding commitment to expose students to the produce industry, and to support produce safety professionals as they begin their careers. The association is offering students the opportunity to learn more about and network with professionals in the produce industry by participating in the food safety track of Reimagine Conversations, a month-long series of thought-provoking sessions offering a fresh outlook, fresh ideas, and fresh connections.

“Consumers and the industry alike ultimately benefit from the efforts of produce safety professionals,” says Tom Stenzel, president and CEO at United Fresh. “Issues related to Cyclospora, water quality, and the application of new scientific tools necessitate ongoing effort. Attracting and developing new talent is critical to the success of our industry.”

More information about Reimagine Conversations can be found at https://www.unitedfresh.org/events-programs/united-fresh-reimagine-connections-reimagine-conversations/reimagine-conversations-produce-safety/

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