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WASHINGTON - With a new food-safety bill moving quickly through the U.S. House, the Food & Drug Administration has hired a produce industry expert, Jim Gorny, to work in the Washington, DC, office as an advisor to FDA's food safety office.

The FDA has received new money in recent months to staff the resource- starved food program, and the agency will need help in meeting new mandates under food-safety legislation that passed a House committee in June.

Dr. Gorny took over as the first full-time executive director of the Postharvest Technology Research & Information Center at the University of California-Davis in 2007.

Prior to that, he worked for seven years as senior vice president of food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association/International Fresh- cut Produce Association. He was one of the founding principals of Davis Fresh Technologies, where he served in a consulting and advisory role to the produce industry in a wide range of postharvest technology applications.

"He brings a lot of knowledge and expertise about the produce industry to FDA," Ray Gilmer of United Fresh told The Produce News, adding that "it's a good sign" that the FDA is hiring people with industry experience on the eve of being asked to write a new food-safety program.

Although not a produce expert, FDA has recruited another senior advisor with extensive knowledge of the food industry. Jenny Scott, who directed the Grocery Manufacturers Association's food safety office for 29 years, starts her new job at the FDA in August.

"It was a difficult decision," Ms. Scott said of her move to the FDA, but she said that she is looking forward to helping the administration put together a program that will be practical and which will meet its food-safety objectives.