DALLAS — Changes are coming for the fresh produce industry, especially for wholesalers and distributors, with the passage of food safety legislation.

That comprised the bulk of conversation at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Town Hall meeting in Dallas on Jan. 6.

Tom Stenzel, president of United Fresh, and Jeff Obermann, vice president of trade relations for the Washington, D.C.-based organization hosted the event for about 70 local produce industry leaders, hoping to raise awareness and inform the industry about recent changes in food safety and child nutrition.

Food safety legislation affects wholesalers, processors and distributors in a very important way, Stenzel said.

United Fresh brings town hall meeting to Dallas

Pamela Riemenschneider

Left to right, Dan'l Almy president of DMA Solutions, Mark Walden, vice president of category management for the perishable division of Tyler-based Brookshire Grocery Co., and Craig Slate, director of retail RPCs for Houston-based IFCO Systems talk after the United Fresh Town Hall meeting held in Dallas on Jan. 6. 

“Every company will have to develop a food safety plan, called preventive controls,” he said.

And these plans will have to be developed for every facility, which is especially important for many wholesalers and distributors, who may have more than one facility.

Retailers also should pay attention to the legislation because while many of them are regulated by the states, the new legislation affects them if they have a central processing facility or commissary.

Importers, of which there are many in Texas, also should take note, Stenzel said. The legislation says the company that takes possession at the border is responsible.

“Legally, you need to verify it was grown to the U.S. standards,” he said.

Child nutrition update

Stenzel urged local companies to partner with schools for United Fresh’s salad bar initiative.

Once a school has a applied for a salad bar at www.saladbars2schools.org, a company can either adopt a school or help the school raise the $3,000 needed to install a salad bar.

United Fresh also plans to hold its convention in Dallas, along with the Food Marketing Institute and American Meat Institute. The co-located shows are scheduled for May 1-3, 2012.

“That’s another reason we were here,” Obermann said. “We wanted to get you engaged and ready for that event.”