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School salad bars and food safety regulation highlight second day of United Fresh 2010

by | April 21, 2010
LAS VEGAS, NV -- Leaders in the fields of school nutrition and food safety kept the momentum of United Fresh 2010 going Wednesday, April 21. The annual convention and expo of the United Fresh Produce Association featured keynote addresses by officials from the New York City Department of Education and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

At the show's breakfast general session, officials from New York City SchoolFood, the office that oversees the city's school foodservice operations, addressed the challenges and successes of feeding 1.1 million students each school day in the nation's largest school district, as well as the importance of school salad bars in that effort. Eric Goldstein, chief executive, and Jorge Collazo, executive chef, underscored the importance of increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables to the health and welfare of New York City kids.

"Under the leadership of these two men, the largest school district in the country has become a model for how effective salad bars can be at raising consumption," United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition & Health Lorelei DiSogra said in an April 22 press release. "Given how imperative it is for the industry to unite behind the effort to increase consumption, their message was both necessary and well received."

Another message that was well received by the industry at United Fresh 2010 came from first lady Michelle Obama, who sent a letter commending the association's Salad Bar in Every School campaign and United's continued efforts at improving child nutrition.

Later in the general session, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor addressed the current progress on, and the continued need for, comprehensive food safety legislation in The Future of Food Safety Legislation & Produce Regulation. One of the higher food safety sources in the federal government, Mr. Taylor outlined his vision for a workable food safety system that respects the intricacies and unique traits of the industry.

"We need to be risk based, and we need to be scale appropriate. We've got to target the significant hazards. We can't just go and set standards that we don't believe will addressing the significant hazards and are improving food safety," Mr. Taylor said in the release. "We need input from this association and colleagues throughout the industry to help us figure out in practice to say that we'll have rules that are scale appropriate."

In addition to the general sessions, the trade show floor at United Fresh 2010 officially opened just before noon, sending thousands of show attendees through the aisles at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, here. Alongside the exhibits, attendees flocked to jam-packed Learning Centers hosted by the United's Fresh-Cut Processor, Wholesaler-Distributor, Grower-Shipper and Retail-Foodservice Market Segment boards, as well as Demonstration Centers focusing on both traceability and food safety.

Also on the show floor, the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation, in collaboration with the Vollrath Co. and the Cambro Manufacturing Co., donated salad bars to two schools in Pahrump, NV, as part of the foundation's Salad Bar in Every School campaign, a philanthropic produce industry initiative to donate salad bars to schools to increase children's fruit and vegetable consumption. On hand for the event were officials from Nye County School District, Nevada Department of Education, United Fresh and other produce industry leaders.

The day was capped off with United's reception honoring women in produce, an annual gathering that recognizes the many contributions of women to the produce industry. Lorri Koster, chairman of Salinas, CA-based Mann Packing Co., was the featured speaker at this year's reception.