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The United Fresh Produce Association has hired Barry A. Eisenberg, formerly head of technical services for River Ranch Fresh Foods, as its new vice president of food-safety services.

"I'm thrilled that we’re able to add such a well-respected industry leader to the United Fresh team," United President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Stenzel said in an Oct. 7 press release. “Dr. Eisenberg’s 25-year food-safety career provides him a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will be highly valued in this new position designed to increase our direct support and assistance to United member companies.”

In the new position of vice president of food-safety services, Mr. Eisenberg will develop education programs, training and individualized expert support to help companies in their food-safety planning, operations and compliance with best practices and regulatory standards. Mr. Eisenberg’s work directly supporting United members will complement the work of David Gombas, United’s senior vice president of food safety and technology, in shaping overall government and industry food-safety policies and best practices.

“Working together, Dave and Barry really provide our members a one-two punch to make sure that science-based rules prevail, whether in government policy or private-sector audits, and then learn how to best incorporate food- safety standards and practices in their own operations,” Mr. Stenzel said in the release.

The new position fills a need identified by the United Fresh executive committee to increase food-safety support for member companies.

“As we evaluated the food-safety demands on the association from our members during the past year, it became apparent that many companies look to our staff expertise for help in understanding and adopting best food- safety practices,” United Fresh Chairman of the Board Steffanie Smith, chief executive officer of River Point Farms, said in the release. “From local farms to global producers and marketers, companies large and small through every segment of the produce supply chain are facing numerous food-safety challenges and looking for help. The addition of Dr. Eisenberg will greatly expand United’s strength as the go-to resource not only in shaping food- safety policy but for support in understanding and complying with food- safety requirements.”

Mr. Eisenberg earned his Ph.D. in horticulture post-harvest physiology from Ohio State University. He began his career at the Campbell Soup Co. in Camden, NJ, followed by an eight-year stint with Chiquita Brands as European director of quality and technical services. He then served as head of the Environmental Horticultural Sciences Department at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo before returning to the private sector working at Apio Inc. and Growers Express. Most recently, Mr. Eisenberg coordinated quality assurance, food safety, research and product development, and process optimization programs for River Ranch Fresh Foods in the United States, Guatemala, Chile and Mexico.

He is a past member of the board of directors of United Fresh, having served as chairman of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council. Most recently, he was chairman of the Grower Shipper Association of Central California’s Food Safety Council, a member of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Technical Committee and a member of scientific research review committees for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Center for Produce Safety.

Dr. Eisenberg will work from United’s western regional office in the Grower- Shipper Building in Salinas, CA, and spend significant time working with member companies around the globe.