PMA Adds Member To Food Safety Staff

Food safety veteran Johnna Hepner will join Produce Marketing Association (PMA) as director of food safety and technology on Feb. 15, adding more than 20 years of experience to the organizations’s food safety team, which is headed by chief science and technology officer Dr. Bob Whitaker.

In this new position, Hepner will work with Whitaker and key members to implement programs, events, products and services in the areas of food safety and science, the latter including production technology, environmental sustainability and biotechnology. Her responsibilities will include monitoring, evaluating and collaborating on produce-specific food safety guidance and standards, as well as legislation and regulation. She will represent the association to members, commodity groups and allied industry organizations, as well as with external groups including federal regulators and legislators.

“Johnna’s hiring significantly enhances the value we can offer to our members in our industry’s most critical area of food safety and related technology,” said PMA president Bryan Silbermann. “Her experience will provide PMA with a unique perspective on the real-world management of produce safety she gained in the foodservice industry, and will complement Bob’s capabilities.”

Hepner, who will be based in California, joins PMA from Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative, Inc., where she was most recently food safety director, prior to which she served as produce buyer and quality assurance manager for Markon from 1993 to 2003, and as quality assurance manager for National Pre-Cut Produce, Salinas, Calif., from 1991 to 1993.

“Johnna started with Markon 17 years ago, and deserves much of the credit for our reputation for leadership and excellence in food safety,” said Markon president Tim York. “She will leave big shoes to fill here, but working with Dr. Bob Whitaker is an opportunity not to be missed. We know she will serve PMA well in her new capacity.”

Hepner is a member of the Food Safety & Technology Council, and the Institute of Food Technologists.

In other PMA news, the Newark, Del.-based association, in partnership with USDA, will host a free, one-hour webinar to increase retail industry awareness about country-of-origin labeling for fresh produce. Titled “COOL at Retail: Are You in Compliance or at Risk?” the session will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 2:00 p.m. EST.

During the webinar, USDA representatives will outline:
—The top commonly seen gaps in compliance
—Where training needs to be tightened to avoid risk
—Concrete examples of compliance and where enhancements are needed

Participants will also have an opportunity to ask questions following the agency’s presentation.

Confirmed speakers from USDA Agricultural Marketing Service are:
—Craig Morris, deputy administrator of livestock and seed programs
—Martin O’Connor, chief of standards, analysis and technology branch, livestock and seed programs
—Bruce Summers, associate deputy administrator of fruit and vegetable programs

For more information or to register for the event, please visit the Webinar registration page.
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