(Nov. 8) Members of Fresno-based California Tomato Farmers, a cooperative formed in March that produces 90% of the tomatoes from California, discussed food safety and other issues during the first meeting of its advisory panel.

The panel, formed over the summer, is composed of retail and foodservice produce operators, government agencies, university researchers and other advocates specializing in issues concerning pesticides, food safety and worker conditions.

“The group has been providing input throughout the process, but this is the first time it has met as a group,” said Ed Beckman, president.

The following are members of California Tomato Farmers advisory board:

  • Elizabeth Bihn, senior extension associate at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.;


  • Gary Campisi, director of quality control for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark.;


  • René Cardinal, national manager for Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa;


  • Geoff Cooney, director, Ready Fresh Produce Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia;


  • Teresa DeAnda, co-founder of El Comité para el Bienestar de Earlimart, Earlimart, Calif., and Central Valley representative for Californians for Pesticide Reform, San Francisco;


  • Rick Melnicoe, director of the Western Integrated Pest Management Center at the University of California-Davis;


  • Michael Spinazzola, president of Diversified Restaurant Systems Inc., San Diego;


  • Trevor Suslow, extension research specialist in the Department of Plant Science at UC-Davis;


  • Mary-Ann Warmerdam, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Sacramento; and


  • Tim York, president of Markon Cooperative Inc., Salinas, Calif.