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NEWARK, DE -- Food safety veteran Johnna Hepner will join Produce Marketing Association Feb. 15 as director of food safety and technology, adding more than 20 years of experience to PMA's food safety team, headed by Chief Science & Technology Officer Bob Whitaker.

In this new PMA position, Ms. Hepner will work with Dr. Whitaker and key members to implement programs, events, products and services in the areas of food safety and science, the latter including production technology, environmental sustainability and biotechnology. Her responsibilities will include monitoring, evaluating and collaborating on produce-specific food- safety guidance and standards as well as legislation and regulation. She will represent the association to members, commodity groups and allied industry organizations as well as with external groups such as federal regulators and legislators.

"Johnna's hiring significantly enhances the value we can offer to our members in our industry's most critical area of food safety and related technology," Bryan Silbermann's PMAs president and chief executive officer, said in a Jan. 12 press release. "Her experience will provide PMA with a unique perspective on the real-world management of produce safety she gained in the foodservice industry, and will complement Bob's capabilities."

"I am looking forward to having this opportunity to work on behalf of an entire industry," Ms. Hepner said in the release. "Working with Dr. Whitaker and the other professionals at PMA, I know we can further broaden the value that PMA brings to our members in the areas of food safety and technology."

Ms. Hepner joins PMA from Markon Cooperative Inc. in Salinas, CA, where she was most recently food safety director. In this position, she forged extensive industry contacts while interacting with company suppliers and vendors to fulfill responsibilities that included setting, evaluating and enforcing Markon's food safety standards. She previously served as producer buyer and quality assurance manager for Markon from 1993 to 2003 and as quality assurance manager for National Pre-Cut Produce, also in Salinas, from 1991 to 1993.

"Johnna started with Markon 17 years ago and deserves much of the credit for our reputation for leadership and excellence in food safety," Markon Cooperative President Tim York said in the release. "She will leave big shoes to fill here, but working with Dr. Bob Whitaker is an opportunity not to be missed. We know she will serve PMA well in her new capacity."

Ms. Hepner is a member of both the Food Safety & Technology Council and the Institute of Food Technologists. She holds a bachelor of science degree in food science with minors in nutrition and chemistry from California State University.