Mar 20, 2023
IFPA names Produce Safety Immersion Program members

With providing food safety expertise and business solutions as one of its strategic commitments, the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) recently welcomed the fourth cohort to its Produce Safety Immersion Program.

Sponsored by Calavo Growers and EcoLab, the 6-month program consists of a mix of virtual and in-person education opportunities designed to develop the technical capacity, critical thinking skills and leadership attributes of the next generation of produce safety professionals.

“IFPA has long advocated that produce safety is not something you add on to your business; rather it is the entire way you do business,” Jennifer McEntire, IFPA chief food safety and regulatory officer, said in a news release. “It is a cultural imperative that permeates throughout an organization.

Participants in this year’s program are:

  • Stephanie Anderson, food safety coordinator for Potandon Produce
  • Maria Castaneda, quality and food safety manager at Diamond Onions
  • Alex Castaneda, field food safety compliance supervisor for Grimmway
  • Betsy Handelman, director of food safety and compliance at Produce Alliance
  • Charles Meadows, food safety manager for L&M Companies
  • Sarah Ann Scarborough, quality assurance supervisor for Grimmway
  • Haley Strange, food safety manager at Plenty
  • Ana Valladares, food safety supervisor at Naturipe Farms
Jennifer McEntire

“The investment these eight IFPA member companies have made in strengthening the skills of their food safety professionals shows their organizational commitment to food safety as well as talent development,” McEntire said in the release.

Thirty-eight companies have invested in building their food safety capacity since the Produce Safety Immersion Program’s inception in 2020.

In addition to the program curricula, immersion program fellows also have access to peer-to-peer networking and mentorship connections.

“What’s really interesting is that two of the three mentors for this cohort are alumni from the first class of 2020,” McEntire said in the release. “This reinforces the value the program delivers and highlights the mentors’ desire to give back to an initiative that helped them early in their careers.”

Mentors for this year’s class are:

  • Deadra Barnett, quality and sanitation manager at DNO Produce
  • Kinsey Clishe, food safety manager for North Bay Produce Inc.
  • Richard Warsaw, vice president of food safety and quality assurance at Braga Fresh Foods LLC

“As a graduate of Class One of the IFPA Produce Safety Immersion Program, I can attest that it was incredibly valuable for my career by strengthening both hard science and soft skills that are necessary to excel in a produce safety role,” Clishe said in the release. “Class 4 will gain not only technical knowledge to improve their critical thinking and produce safety skills but will also participate in professional development and networking opportunities to foster more confidence in their roles.”

In the weeks ahead, industry will be introduced to the 2023 IFPA Produce Safety Immersion Program cohort through interviews shared via the IFPA Food Safety Fridays short video series that cover a diverse assortment of produce safety topics and issues.

The immersion program is one of many development opportunities IFPA member and industry food safety professionals can access. Other programs include:

  • Listeria Management for the Produce Industry Certificate Program
  • Produce GAPs Harmonized Standard Auditor Training
  • Produce Inspection Training Program
  • Recall Ready Workshop

Additional IFPA food safety resources can be found in the association’s robust Online Learning Academy as well as the food safety area of the IFPA website.

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