(Jan. 19) A new forum created by the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Washington, D.C., aims to keep lines of communication open between government officials and produce industry leaders on regulatory issues.

The Partnership Among Industry and Regulators held its first teleconference in October and its second Jan. 11, said Jim Gorny, United’s vice president of quality assurance and technology. The partnership will hold quarterly teleconferences, Gorny said.

The purpose of the forum is to make sure the Food and Drug Administration, the California Department of Health Services, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and United and its member associations are on the same page on food safety and other regulatory issues, Gorny said.

By getting 15 to 20 people from different groups together every few months, the forum helps people in the regulatory arena operate more efficiently, he said.

Instead of Association X making three separate phone calls to Association Y, Association Z and the FDA, now one teleconference can take care of it all.

Among the issues discussed at the second partnership meeting was the industry’s food safety push on lettuce, Gorny said.

Association members informed FDA officials that meetings on the issue in early January had been successful and that the agency could expect something from the industry by early February, Gorny said.

In return, FDA officials told industry members that a new set of regulations for the fresh-cut industry was on hold while the government’s lawyers dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.