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United Fresh focuses on transportation, import rules at Washington Conference

WASHINGTON — The United Fresh Produce Association met with federal lawmakers recently carrying a short list of must-haves at its Washington Conference, but the three-day meeting also delved into a list of regulations the produce industry is closely scrutinizing.

The Food Safety Modernization Act’s proposed regulation for sanitary transportation includes a provision that could easily render shipments adulterated if records show a variation in temperature controls, Jon Samson of the Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference said at a Sept. 9 session, here.

“This could substantially increase cargo claims,” he warned. “We want more flexibility in the rule.”

The Food & Drug Administration’s first federal rule for hauling food underestimates compliance costs and exempts small trucking companies, which could hurt their businesses in the long run, he warned. More than 90 percent of trucking companies operate six trucks or fewer, and refrigerated truck companies are even smaller, he said.

The FDA needs to provide details on a range of issues, including how and who will maintain records, before the rule becomes final by March 2016.

Samson said the American Trucking Association also is working with Congress to suspend some provisions of the hours-of-service changes that were implemented in July 2013. The rule requires a 30-minute break during the first eight-hour shift. But depending on the shifts, carriers could end up having to take two 30-minute rest periods to comply with the rule, and that’s costly, he said.

Legislation that would delay enforcement of the rules for at least a year while a study is undertaken is moving through Congress, Samson said.

Imports have their own issues, and Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association, said changes are needed to ease the flow of trade.

More Customs officials are needed on the U.S. side for the nation’s busiest ports of entry, and a memorandum of understanding that would have the U.S. government recognize Mexico’s food safety and quality inspections would go a long way, Jungmeyer said.

Importers are keeping a close eye on the FDA’s plans to collect importer fees to pay for FSMA, a move that would affect border crossings, he said.

“Each new fee may invite retaliatory measures by foreign governments,” Jungmeyer warned.

Other changes on the produce industry’s plate include the Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service’s proposed user fees for inspection services to prevent pests and diseases and changes to container inspections.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

United Fresh focuses on transportation, import rules at Washington Conference

WASHINGTON — The United Fresh Produce Association met with federal lawmakers recently carrying a short list of must-haves at its Washington Conference, but the three-day meeting also delved into a list of regulations the produce industry is closely scrutinizing.

The Food Safety Modernization Act’s proposed regulation for sanitary transportation includes a provision that could easily render shipments adulterated if records show a variation in temperature controls, Jon Samson of the Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference said at a Sept. 9 session, here.

“This could substantially increase cargo claims,” he warned. “We want more flexibility in the rule.”

The Food & Drug Administration’s first federal rule for hauling food underestimates compliance costs and exempts small trucking companies, which could hurt their businesses in the long run, he warned. More than 90 percent of trucking companies operate six trucks or fewer, and refrigerated truck companies are even smaller, he said.

The FDA needs to provide details on a range of issues, including how and who will maintain records, before the rule becomes final by March 2016.

Samson said the American Trucking Association also is working with Congress to suspend some provisions of the hours-of-service changes that were implemented in July 2013. The rule requires a 30-minute break during the first eight-hour shift. But depending on the shifts, carriers could end up having to take two 30-minute rest periods to comply with the rule, and that’s costly, he said.

Legislation that would delay enforcement of the rules for at least a year while a study is undertaken is moving through Congress, Samson said.

Imports have their own issues, and Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association, said changes are needed to ease the flow of trade.

More Customs officials are needed on the U.S. side for the nation’s busiest ports of entry, and a memorandum of understanding that would have the U.S. government recognize Mexico’s food safety and quality inspections would go a long way, Jungmeyer said.

Importers are keeping a close eye on the FDA’s plans to collect importer fees to pay for FSMA, a move that would affect border crossings, he said.

“Each new fee may invite retaliatory measures by foreign governments,” Jungmeyer warned.

Other changes on the produce industry’s plate include the Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service’s proposed user fees for inspection services to prevent pests and diseases and changes to container inspections.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

United Fresh focuses on transportation, import rules at Washington Conference

WASHINGTON — The United Fresh Produce Association met with federal lawmakers recently carrying a short list of must-haves at its Washington Conference, but the three-day meeting also delved into a list of regulations the produce industry is closely scrutinizing.

The Food Safety Modernization Act’s proposed regulation for sanitary transportation includes a provision that could easily render shipments adulterated if records show a variation in temperature controls, Jon Samson of the Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference said at a Sept. 9 session, here.

“This could substantially increase cargo claims,” he warned. “We want more flexibility in the rule.”

The Food & Drug Administration’s first federal rule for hauling food underestimates compliance costs and exempts small trucking companies, which could hurt their businesses in the long run, he warned. More than 90 percent of trucking companies operate six trucks or fewer, and refrigerated truck companies are even smaller, he said.

The FDA needs to provide details on a range of issues, including how and who will maintain records, before the rule becomes final by March 2016.

Samson said the American Trucking Association also is working with Congress to suspend some provisions of the hours-of-service changes that were implemented in July 2013. The rule requires a 30-minute break during the first eight-hour shift. But depending on the shifts, carriers could end up having to take two 30-minute rest periods to comply with the rule, and that’s costly, he said.

Legislation that would delay enforcement of the rules for at least a year while a study is undertaken is moving through Congress, Samson said.

Imports have their own issues, and Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association, said changes are needed to ease the flow of trade.

More Customs officials are needed on the U.S. side for the nation’s busiest ports of entry, and a memorandum of understanding that would have the U.S. government recognize Mexico’s food safety and quality inspections would go a long way, Jungmeyer said.

Importers are keeping a close eye on the FDA’s plans to collect importer fees to pay for FSMA, a move that would affect border crossings, he said.

“Each new fee may invite retaliatory measures by foreign governments,” Jungmeyer warned.

Other changes on the produce industry’s plate include the Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service’s proposed user fees for inspection services to prevent pests and diseases and changes to container inspections.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

ISU Food Safety Campaign Focuses on Leafy Greens

Because leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach are often a source of contamination, Iowa State University researchers are targeting their safe handling in an effort to protect older adults, who are particularly susceptible to severe illness or death in foodborne illness outbreaks.

Dr. Susan W. Arendt, associate professor of hospitality management at Iowa State, said that, with a growing aging population in the U.S., it’s critical to focus on food safety in operations that serve older adults. Proper handling and preparation of leafy greens will help reduce the number of food poisoning cases, she added.

Arendt is leading a team of researchers observing how food service workers in restaurants, hospitals, and assisted living and long-term care facilities handle, prepare and serve leafy greens. Employees were also interviewed about the steps they follow in the kitchen. The research team took swabs of utensils and food contact surfaces at different times throughout the process to measure bacteria levels and contamination.

“We want to make sure leafy greens are served safely. Employees in these facilities are really the last line of defense in protecting against foodborne illnesses. Proper handling of leafy greens is especially important because they are mostly served raw,” Arendt said, adding, “We identified several potential problems that could lead to contamination.”

The purpose of the two-year study, funded by the USDA, is to educate food service employees on how to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Based on their observations, researchers developed a series of posters to use at each facility. The team plans to return to each location for follow-up testing and observations to see if the educational campaign had an impact.

Researchers wanted a simple and effective way to deliver the information to employees who are working in a fast-paced environment. Instead of requiring classroom training or providing material for the employees to read, the posters hit on key messages and use several visuals to make a point. Arendt said the material will also be translated into Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

“We know that food service directors do not have a lot of time to search for materials that are beneficial for their employees. With a minimal amount of text, we hope the posters will reach a broad audience, regardless of language or reading skills,” she said.

One poster features images of the germs found on your hands after touching a phone or your face, or if your hands are not properly washed. Arendt said those germs can easily be transferred to lettuce or spinach if the food is not handled properly, thereby increasing the chances for contamination.

Another poster illustrates how to handle and store pre-packaged or bagged vegetables — it does not recommend washing the produce after opening the package. It’s a precaution many people may take following the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to bagged spinach. However, Arendt said bagged produce is triple-washed and extra handling before serving is an added risk. The Food and Drug Administration also states that it’s not necessary to wash pre-washed produce.

Arendt told Food Safety News that all nine of the posters produced from the research team’s work will be available for free (including those translated into Spanish and Mandarin Chinese) at this website early in the fall.

Iowa State researchers Catherine Strohbehn, adjunct professor of hospitality management; Lakshman Rajagopal, associate professor of hospitality management, and Angela Shaw, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, are working with Arendt on the project. Kevin Sauer, associate professor at Kansas State University, is also part of the team.

Food Safety News

ISU Food Safety Campaign Focuses on Leafy Greens

Because leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach are often a source of contamination, Iowa State University researchers are targeting their safe handling in an effort to protect older adults, who are particularly susceptible to severe illness or death in foodborne illness outbreaks.

Dr. Susan W. Arendt, associate professor of hospitality management at Iowa State, said that, with a growing aging population in the U.S., it’s critical to focus on food safety in operations that serve older adults. Proper handling and preparation of leafy greens will help reduce the number of food poisoning cases, she added.

Arendt is leading a team of researchers observing how food service workers in restaurants, hospitals, and assisted living and long-term care facilities handle, prepare and serve leafy greens. Employees were also interviewed about the steps they follow in the kitchen. The research team took swabs of utensils and food contact surfaces at different times throughout the process to measure bacteria levels and contamination.

“We want to make sure leafy greens are served safely. Employees in these facilities are really the last line of defense in protecting against foodborne illnesses. Proper handling of leafy greens is especially important because they are mostly served raw,” Arendt said, adding, “We identified several potential problems that could lead to contamination.”

The purpose of the two-year study, funded by the USDA, is to educate food service employees on how to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. Based on their observations, researchers developed a series of posters to use at each facility. The team plans to return to each location for follow-up testing and observations to see if the educational campaign had an impact.

Researchers wanted a simple and effective way to deliver the information to employees who are working in a fast-paced environment. Instead of requiring classroom training or providing material for the employees to read, the posters hit on key messages and use several visuals to make a point. Arendt said the material will also be translated into Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

“We know that food service directors do not have a lot of time to search for materials that are beneficial for their employees. With a minimal amount of text, we hope the posters will reach a broad audience, regardless of language or reading skills,” she said.

One poster features images of the germs found on your hands after touching a phone or your face, or if your hands are not properly washed. Arendt said those germs can easily be transferred to lettuce or spinach if the food is not handled properly, thereby increasing the chances for contamination.

Another poster illustrates how to handle and store pre-packaged or bagged vegetables — it does not recommend washing the produce after opening the package. It’s a precaution many people may take following the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to bagged spinach. However, Arendt said bagged produce is triple-washed and extra handling before serving is an added risk. The Food and Drug Administration also states that it’s not necessary to wash pre-washed produce.

Arendt told Food Safety News that all nine of the posters produced from the research team’s work will be available for free (including those translated into Spanish and Mandarin Chinese) at this website early in the fall.

Iowa State researchers Catherine Strohbehn, adjunct professor of hospitality management; Lakshman Rajagopal, associate professor of hospitality management, and Angela Shaw, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, are working with Arendt on the project. Kevin Sauer, associate professor at Kansas State University, is also part of the team.

Food Safety News

Year of the Horse focuses on families and food, providing good opportunities for produce

January will be a time of celebration as people anticipate Chinese New Year and the coming of the Year of the Horse. People born in horse years are said to be skillful with money, perceptive, cheerful and full of wit. The celebration will begin Jan. 31 and continue for 15 days.

Festivities connected with the holiday are ancient, dating back some 4,000 years to the Shang Dynasty. Today, Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival, and it remains China’s most important social and economic holiday. OpenerShotJungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, OH, provides its customers with a host of Asian produce items. Consumers are increasingly being exposed to new dishes incorporating Asian produce items when they dine out, and are now bringing that experience into their own kitchens.Families focus on their reunion and hopes for the future. As in ancient times, food plays a pivotal role in today’s celebrations.

In May 2010, the Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research Education Center of the University of Kentucky-College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service published its report, Marketing Asian Produce. The report quantified emerging trends regarding consumption of Asian produce, showing that commodities have crossed cultural lines and are being increasingly incorporated into at-home meal planning by Asian and non-Asian populations in the United States.

“The increasingly diverse appetites of Caucasian consumers, combined with a larger ethnic Asian population, fueled an explosion in the popularity of ethnic Asian cuisine during the 1990s and into this century,” the report stated. “In the 2000s, American consumers already familiar with Chinese cuisine began exploring Thai, Japanese, Indian and Korean fare, especially when dining out.”

It is not surprising that ethnic restaurants offering quick casual and fusion cuisine became increasingly popular. During 2002, the Food Institute named Asian cuisine as “the next hot concept for the restaurant industry.”

According to the report, the fusion of Asian and Latin cuisine was deemed one of the top 20 food trends in 2010 by Restaurants & Institutions magazine.

While the report stated that Caucasian consumers tend to prefer value-added and processed vegetables, “there are some growing market niches for fresh Asian vegetables.”

The Produce News spoke with four companies that market Asian produce to get their comments and insights about these trends.

Based in Orlando, FL, Spice World is a leading producer of garlic, as well as herbs and spices. Louis Hymel, the company’s director of purchasing and marketing, said Spice World supplies both conventional and organic garlic to retail supermarket chains as well as customers in the foodservice and industrial sectors.

“Garlic fits all international cuisines and in itself can be exciting to cook and eat,” Hymel told The Produce News. “Spice World is completely vertically integrated from field to plate, making us a leader in the garlic industry. We know our customers and their customers. Therefore, we offer garlic in every variety imaginable and convenient to use.”

An array of packaging options, including bulk, fresh in cello or mesh bags, peeled and ready-to-use jarred garlic are available for both conventional and organic garlic.

One of its very popular items, squeeze garlic, was introduced in 2010. The line eventually included both 20-ounce and 9.5-ounce contains for conventional garlic. In 2012, the program was expanded, offering the same ease and convenience for consumers purchasing organic garlic.

“Our value-added garlic items are so much a main ingredient for Asian cooking, especially our squeeze garlic in extra virgin olive oil, which was introduced less than a year ago,” Hymel said.

Hymel added that some of Spice World’s retail partners offer special promotions around Chinese New Year, which increase overall garlic sales.

I Love Produce, located in Kelton, PA, is making a big push with its Asian pear program from China.

“There are only three packers from Shandong Province, China, allowed to ship Singo pears to the United States,” said Jim Provost, an owner of the company. “One of these shippers has formed an exclusive distribution agreement with I Love Produce for our team to market their pears in the United States.”

Provost said a new protocol has been established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to facilitate the import of two pear varieties.

“One is the Singo pear, which is a traditional Korean-style pear,” he said. “It is round in shape, brown-skinned, crunchy and juicy.”

According to Provost, the Singo pear is exactly the same size as the one grown in Korea. “Korean farmers brought the trees from Korea to propagate the variety in China,” he added. “The taste is very good and sweet, with Brix averaging 14.”

The other pear is known as a Golden Pear, and Provost said it is generally favored by Chinese consumers.

I Love Produce just introduced its new three-pack clamshell for Asian pears. “It has three large pears per package, and will retail in the $ 5.99 to $ 6.99 range,” Provost said.

In addition to its Asian pears, I Love Produce sells Japanese sweet potatoes, garlic and ginger.

“January is going to one of the tightest markets on record for Chinese ginger,” he added. “So featuring ginger on ad for Chinese New Year will be tough. China is gapping between old and new crop, with new crop arriving around the last week of January. Brazil is finished, and Central America is winding down.”

Currently, Hawaii is the only shipping area coming into ginger production. “The prices are in the $ 42 to $ 45 per-box range,” Provost said. “The market is going to be very strong for the next month.”

Maurice A. Auerbach, headquartered in Secaucus, NJ, moves all major Asian produce items. The company’s history dates back to World War II when it began moving garlic.

“We cater to what our customers want,” said Bruce Klein, director of marketing. “We procure based on this.”

Consumer interest in Asian produce continues to grow. “These items are almost mainstream,” Klein said.

According to Klein, consumers enjoy dishes they taste in restaurants and are learning how to makes them at home. Consumers are becoming more experimental with items that were previously unfamiliar to them. To illustrate, he said, “Baby bok choy is really showing good movement.”

Christopher Ranch LLC, based in Gilroy, CA, began moving bulk garlic a half-century ago. Today, it grows, packs and ships 70 million pounds of garlic annually. Its product line includes chopped and crushed garlic, whole peeled garlic cloves, elephant garlic, roasted garlic, shallots, pearl onions, boiler onions, cipolline onions, roaster chopped ginger, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.

Marketing Director Patsy Ross said the company is currently transitioning from fresh Brazilian ginger to Hawaiian ginger.

“Hawaiian ginger shipments began about one month sooner than normal,” she told The Produce News. “Last season, we experienced some crop and weather issues. But we are optimistic that volume will be up this year.”

Ross said Christopher Ranch will work with its retail partners to determine “what kind of product mix makes sense for them” as they prepare for Chinese New Year.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Cool Fresh focuses directly on the final customer with BonSweet offer

Mario de Goede: “Pineapple production and import increasingly concentrated”
Cool Fresh focuses directly on the final customer with BonSweet offer

The pineapple market had two sides in 2013. The year started well, but had three difficult months in the autumn, after which the market pulled up again in December. “This tendency is continuing for the most part. At the moment there are little to no sales to the East Block due to the holidays. The demand from Germany is also reasonably low, but this could pick up next week,” expects Mario de Goede of Cool Fresh International. “The supply is never that high in the first weeks of January, due to the holidays in Costa Rica. Starting week 3 more pineapple will be heading our way, but not as much as the volumes of the previous years.”


At the moment the price level of pineapple is between 7 and 10 Euro, depending on size. The importer expects 2014 to be a reasonable pineapple year. “In the end 2013 was a reasonable year too, despite a difficult period. We hope for a slightly better year with renewed energy. A clear tendency is that both the cultivation in Costa Rica and the number of importers in Europe is becoming more concentrated. You can only succeed if you take the pineapple trade seriously nowadays. It is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller producers and importers to stay afloat.”


Cool Fresh International has recently started focussing directly on the consumer with its pineapple brand Bon Sweet. “We started an offer at Christmas in which the consumers could enter a code found on the pineapple label on www.bonsweet.eu, where various prizes can be won. We will keep this offer for a few months, focusing directly on the final customer for the first time. With over 400 responses during Christmas week, we have had a successful start.”


For more information:
Mario de Goede
Coolfresh
[email protected]
Direct office: + 31 88 3 777 138
Mobile: + 623 931 499

Publication date: 1/10/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chilean Citrus Committee focuses on keeping U.S. customers informed and in good supply

The Chilean Citrus industry, via the Chilean Citrus Committee and “Fruits from Chile” wants to provide as much useful information to its U.S. customers about the numerous steps in the supply chain — from growers to exporters to importers and finally to retailers — to keep everyone abreast of the volumes being shipped during any given season and forecasts for that overall season. One way the organizations do that is through videos posted on YouTube and on its “Fruits from Chile” website.

In July 2013, Juan Enrique Ortuzar, chairman of the Chilean Citrus Committee, commentated “Introducing Chilean Citrus!” In it he said that the Chilean industry felt that there would be a slight overall increase in Chilean citrus being exported to the U.S., although some growers in the northern regions of the country had suffered some damage and losses from a drought that was affecting the region.

“Growers were very cautious in their use of the water they had,” said Ortuzar. “Still, overall our lemon volumes were similar to the year before, and late mandarins enjoyed an increase.”

The challenge Chilean citrus growers continually face is living up to its commitment to always provide consistently good volumes and high-quality citrus to the U.S. market, which is the country’s primary market for Mandarins, clementines and lemons.

Ortuzar explained that early harvests start in late April in the northern regions of Chile. It also has a central region, which gives the country a nice, long season to supply the U.S. with high-quality citrus.

“We harvest fruits from the north through late July and into August,” he said. “Navel oranges start in the northern areas by late May, and soon after, in early to mid-June, we start in the central zone of Chile. This program runs into September.”

Late Mandarins from Chile are harvested from August through late September. Ortuzar said ocean shipments to the U.S. are a short trip, and so fruit can be from the tree to consumers’ tables in two to three weeks.

“A harvest generally takes about two weeks in a typical normal grove,” he explained. “Pickers usually pick about 1,000 kilos of fruit per day, meaning he’ll pick from many trees. Most citrus varieties are ready to be packed the minute they are picked. And most groves are picked twice. The first time only the mature fruit is taken. Pickers wait for about two weeks for the remainder of the fruit to ripen, and then they do picking the tree completely of fruit.”

The quality of the citrus that Chile grows and ships is very important to its industry. Ortuzar said that freshness in a piece of citrus is reflected in its deep orange color. The taste is fresh and sweet, but it also has a little acid that provides that refreshing flavor such as one finds in a great Navel orange.

“Different citrus fruits are eaten in different ways,” he said. “Navels are fantastic eaten fresh because they have a nice balance of sweet and tart. Children really like them. We suggest that you cut them into slices resembling a smile, and then smile as you bite into a slice.”

Chilean Mandarins are also excellent pieces of fruit. Chile produces two types: clementines in the early season and Mandarins or W. Murcotts in mid- and late seasons. It supplies the U.S. market from mid-May through early November, which does not compete with domestic citrus production.

“These fruits are really wonderful,” said Ortuzar. “They are small, convenient, easy to peel, easy to eat, juicy — but not so that they run all over when you peel them — and they are very sweet. This is why we are seeing so much growth in this category today.”

Although everyone loves the Mandarin category, Ortuzar feels they are the perfect fruit for kids.

“They pack well in lunch boxes and in backpacks to be carried to sports practice and other outings,” he said. “They are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are really the perfect piece of fruit.”

Chile has another great advantage in its citrus production. It does not have fruit flies or other difficult-to-manage pests or diseases, and so the category does not require cold sterilization or treatment that can compromise the quality of other fresh fruits.

“Reliability of consistent shipments is therefore outstanding,” said Ortuzar. “Chile is in a very good position to live up to its promise to U.S. consumers to bring sweet, juicy and reliable fruit to them during the summer months.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines