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13 July 2010

Special Webinar:  Join the United Fresh GAP Harmonization Technical Working Group during the day on Tuesday, July 13

In lieu of our usual interactive conference call, and taking advantage of the fact that on Tuesday 7/13, the GAP Harmonization Technical Working Group will be meeting and continuing its work on the next draft of the Harmonized GAP standards, NGFN has arranged a webinar enabling callers to join in the process.

Callers will be able to log onto the webinar and observe the work in process, and hear (depending on the audio quality that we are able to capture in the room) the discussion among the TWG members.

Webinar attendees will be able to send questions to the TWG from their keyboard, but will not have audio capability.  These questions can be relayed into the discussion by GNGFN Food Safety Coordinator Steve Warshawer, who will be in attendance and moderating the webinar.

Register now to be a part of this historic event.

Housekeeping and organizational update

Nothing new to report

Federal Legislative / Regulatory Update


S510: The Food Safety Modernization Act

The bill remains stalled in the Senate.  Consumer Groups have made a final push to get the Senate to address this before summer recess.  Even president Obama has chimed in with a plea for attention.  If not addressed before summer recess, it is nearly impossible to see how the bill could be reconciled with the House Bill via conference, and signed into law by the president this year.  But the bottom line appears to be that Supreme Court Nominee Kegan, and Climate change, and Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization are of greater urgency to Senate Leadership

USDA/FSIS: NACMPI, the National Advisory Committee on Meat & Poultry Inspection

Established in 1971, NACMPI was created to advise and make recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on policies and procedures relating to meat, poultry and egg products inspection programs.

Membership is drawn from a broad range of groups interested in food safety to include industry, academia, State and local government officials, consumers and consumer organizations.  Committee appointments are made by the Secretary of Agriculture.

The full committee consists of about 18 members. Each person selected is expected to serve a two-year term and existing members are permitted to serve two consecutive two-year terms. The committee generally meets twice a year and addresses food safety policy issues affecting USDA. Meetings are generally two days in length occurring in the spring and fall.

The committee has not met since 2008. In January Wallace/NGFN Food Safety Coordinator Steve Warshawer was recommended as a committee member by NSAC and OFRF, and an application was requested and  submitted. On July 3rd Steve W was notified by FSIS that he is being offered a position on the committee, which he accepted.  The committee will meet some time this fall.

No doubt the "modernization" of HACCP will be a hot topic.  Steve W has requested a full committee list from FSIS staff at their soonest convenient opportunity.

FDA Produce handling guideline request

The FDA produce handling comment period has been extended to July 23.

NGFN is beginning to collect comments that have been submitted, which we will so that people can review them and use them as points of reference in creating their own comments.  Daniel Cohen, author of “The history, politics, and perils of the current food safety controversy” (written for CAFF and published in January 2008. Full text or Executive summary) has offered his detailed comments about the failings of the current approach and some alternatives that he hopes FDA will consider.

We would be happy to link to other comments as we are notified of their availability.


GAP Harmonization initiative

The DRAFT Produce GAP Standard has been published by United Fresh.  Here is the link to the draft standard, and the beginning of the work on the second draft, and the link to the blog where you can place comments.

The GAP Harmonization TWG is meeting July 13-14 in San Jose, Ca. Again, please join us there via webinar (register now) Hosted by the California Strawberry Council. After that meetings are scheduled for Philadelphia on August 25-6, hosted by the Produce Marketing Association.  A joint meeting with the newly formed Operations Committee is planned for September 13th, immediately before United Fresh's Washington Public Policy Conference.  The goal remains to present a “final draft” standard to the steering committee by October, 2010.

Wild Farm Alliance initiative to support NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Services)

Wild Farm Alliance expects to hear by the end of July whether its proposal to do pilot projects on “co-management” of food safety and conservation practices had been accepted by NRCS.

Global GAP group Certification and other “alternative” GAP approaches

GlobalGAP Executive Director Kristian Moeller opens a US office later this month and GlobalGAP will be developing a social network presence to facilitate conversation about GAP issues.  Remember that for GlobalGAP and the rest of the world, GAP means much more than avoiding food borne illness and minimizing risk of microbial contamination of fresh produce.  Wallace/NGFN will link to this conversation.

Wallace Center / NGFN Commitment to evaluate and create Quality Management System (QMS) support tools

Wallace / NGFN Food Safety Coordinator continues to seek out and respond to inquiries about group certification, and to seek additional opportunities to inform buyers, growers, aggregators, media, agency personnel, ANY group or individuals who may play a key role in implementation of GAP, about the process and value of group certification.  It all begins with buyer acceptance.  We particularly appreciate SYSCO's continued interest in and support for the group approach.  We look forward to gaining access to the resources needed to properly pilot a group cert process, and to build on that pilot by developing tools to make it easier for buyers, grower groups, and ultimately our end customers, to benefit from this approach.

USDA GAP research and pilot project

We were not able to get USDA GAP program director Ken Petersen on our June call.  Communication since then has not been robust.  Some NGFN and related groups report being contacted by Ken about the USDA pilot/research project.  We will update you as information becomes available.

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