Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has hired Max Teplitski as its new chief science officer, succeeding Bob Whitaker, who is retiring next month. Joining the organization in January 2020, Teplitski will lead a growing team of experts at PMA providing insight and leadership for the produce and floral industries on technology, sustainability, supply chain and food safety issues.
He brings to his new role extensive experience in leading national food safety and nutrition programs, and building and sustaining private-public partnerships, along with accomplishments in science and scientific policy supported by a research background in microbiology, biotechnology and sustainability of agricultural production.
“I am proud to welcome Dr. Teplitski to the PMA family and community as our next chief science officer,” said Cathy Burns, CEO of Newark, Del.-based PMA. “Max comes to us as an accomplished scientist with a long history of produce safety experience from his days as a leading researcher at the University of Florida and most recently as a USDA NIFA program leader. Max has a demonstrated understanding of the microbiological and environmental challenges facing growers today and a view on emerging technologies that are changing the face of produce safety. He is also a staunch advocate of science and risk-based produce safety approaches, which has been a cornerstone of PMA’s produce safety offerings for the past 11 years under Dr. Bob Whitaker’s leadership.”
Before his appointment at PMA, Teplitski was acting director for the divisions of food safety and nutrition at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). In this role, he oversaw NIFA’s investment portfolio into research programs in food safety, human nutrition and health, novel foods, and manufacturing technologies, in addition to programs that encourage the purchase of fruits and vegetables b low-income consumers, boost the self-reliance of communities in providing for their food needs, promote access to local food, and deliver customized Food Safety Modernization Act training.
Before that, as a faculty member at the University of Florida for more than a decade, he led a research program on food safety, public and environmental health, and agricultural crop production, and has contributed to industry research through the Center for Produce Safety (CPS).
“PMA has been a pioneer of translating scientific discoveries that benefit our industry in everything from food safety to traceability,” noted Teplitski, who maintained his own small farm in Florida, cultivating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from around the world. “I look forward to building on the work that Dr. Bob Whitaker has done to lead with the science. I will aim for a two-prong approach: to continue the work to solve the biggest challenges facing our industry today, and to anticipate and strategically capitalize on opportunities that will unlock the hidden potential in produce and floral.
“This includes thinking about how to utilize new spaces that haven’t previously been conducive to growing foods,” he continued. “It can also include re-imagining how fruits, vegetables and floral are used not just on the table, but in every aspect of our lives. I am very excited to be a part of an organization [that] is forward-thinking and socially responsible, and also thinks and plans ahead to be an authoritative voice on behalf of our members, to improve lives of consumers, and to advocate for science-based solutions for challenges that face [the] produce and floral industries today and tomorrow.”
“We have assembled a world-class science, technology and supply chain team at PMA to serve our members’ needs, and Max is going to take that capability to new heights,” said Whitaker. “Max has a solid grasp of key industry issues and will work with our staff and our members to create connections and provide content to drive solutions.”
PMA represents companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain.