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Officials from Pandol Bros. and DiMare to testify before Congress

by Brian Gaylord | March 31, 2009
David Dever, chief operating officer and president of Delano, CA-based Pandol Bros. Inc., and Tony DiMare, vice president of DiMare Homestead Inc. and DiMare Ruskin Inc., both in Florida, will testify Thursday, April 2, before the House of Representatives' Committee on Agriculture in Washington, DC, in what is being described as an educational and informational public hearing.

According to a spokesperson for the committee who provided some background information and who asked not to be named, the committee is seeking to better understand how federal food safety systems work and the challenges facing the current systems. As such, Pandol Bros. and DiMare were chosen because the committee was looking for companies with broad experience in food safety, according to the spokesperson. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are looking at issues and ways to improve, the spokesperson said.

Joining the panel with Messrs. Dever and DiMare will be Chandler Keys III, head of government and industry relations for meat processor JBS LLC in Washington, DC.

Mr. DiMare told The Produce News that his understanding is that the committee is seeking a "better understanding of where the industry is at with food safety" and "what we're doing and how we're doing it." He said that his company has a lengthy history of adopting food safety measures, including HACCP in 1990.

In a letter to Pandol Bros. employees, Mr. Dever wrote that Pandol was invited to testify because the company name is "synonymous with food safety from within the various trade associations of our industry" and that "given the global nature of the business with the importation of product from South America and Mexico, the company is viewed as having a global food-safety program taking into account the intricacies of product grown and transported into the United States."

Another panel scheduled to testify will consist of Elsa Murano, president of Texas A&M University in College Station, TX; Michael Taylor, a research professor with the department of health policy at George Washington University's School of Public Health & Health Services in Washington, DC; and Carol Tucker-Foreman, a distinguished fellow of The Food Policy Institute, Consumer Federation of America, in Chevy Chase, MD. All three on this panel have experience working in food safety at the federal level.

John Hanlin, vice president of food safety for Supervalu Inc. in Eden Prairie, MN, and Mike Erlandson, Supervalu's vice president of government affairs, are also scheduled to testify.