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United announces dates for Produce Inspection Training Program

The Washington, DC-based United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Food Safety & Quality, will conduct three installments of its popular Produce Inspection Training Program in 2012. These hands-on training sessions, executed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, are designed to help produce industry members better understand the breadth of the produce inspection process.

“This program provides a valuable resource to industry members throughout all sectors of the produce supply chain,” Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services and the foundation, said in a press release. “We continue to see many new and returning companies take advantage of the straight-forward training and practical applications that this unique course offers.”

“Through our partnership with United Fresh, these programs present a special opportunity for the government to connect with and educate the private sector,” Robert Keeney, deputy administrator of the fruit and vegetable programs at the USDA-AMS, added in the release. “As we enter our 10th year since the program started, we’ve trained nearly 750 industry members, and interest continues to remain high.”

Three Produce Inspection Training programs will be offered in 2012 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training & Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA: Jan. 9-13, May 21-25, and Sept. 10-14.

The program is offered in two specialized courses: Fundamentals of Produce Inspection and Commodity Labs. Upon completion of both courses, attendees receive a certificate of completion from United Fresh and the USDA.

The first of the two courses, Fundamentals of Produce Inspection, is a prerequisite of the Commodity Labs course and focuses on topics such as inspection essentials, the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, sampling procedures and general market principles. The three-day Commodity Labs course takes place in a laboratory and applies the principals learned in the fundamentals course to real product inspections. Each Commodity Labs course will include the five most commonly requested commodities: grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes. The class will be customized with additional commodities based on the attendees’ most common preferences (up to 12 in total). The following course options are available in the coming year:

Jan. 9-10: Fundamentals of Inspection

Jan. 11-13: Commodity Labs

Jan. 9-13: Both courses

May 21-22: Fundamentals of Inspection

May 23-25: Commodity Labs

May 21-25: Both courses

Sept. 10-11: Fundamentals of Inspection

Sept. 12-14: Commodity Labs

Sept. 10-14: Both courses

Class size is limited and attendees are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration fee for United Fresh members interested in the introductory course is $895, while the advanced course is $1,225. If both courses are taken together, members may register at the discounted rate of $1,925. If three or more colleagues from the same member company register for both courses at the same time, each will receive a $100 discount on the registration fees. For non-members, the prices are $1,095, $1,425 and $2,325, respectively. Seminar registration fees include training seminars and all necessary course materials.

Attendees may register for the training seminars on the United Fresh web site at www.unitedfresh.org or by contacting Shannon Young, education manager, at 202/303-3400, ext. 405, or syoung@unitedfresh.org.

Founded in 1998, the United Fresh Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization committed to meeting the public’s needs for an abundant supply of healthy, safe and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. The foundation is dedicated to increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to children as a critical step in combating childhood obesity and launching a lifetime of healthy choices.

To assist industry members in meeting these goals, the foundation offers multiple educational programs, leadership development, public outreach and industry training through four different centers: the Center for Leadership Excellence, the Center for Nutrition & Health, the Center for Food Safety & Quality, and the Center for Global Produce Sustainability.