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The United Fresh Produce Association has developed the Produce Safety Immersion Program, a year-long program designed to help professionals newer to the industry.

The program includes three meeting/training sessions, three web seminars and an ongoing mentoring program to help early- to mid-career professionals with less than five years of food safety experience, according to a news release.

The program is limited to 20 spots, with four produce safety professionals serving as mentors.

“The importance of produce safety, coupled with emerging science and technology and changes in the regulatory and legal environment, have created a real need for ongoing professional development,” Cheryl Enlow, vice president of quality assurance & food safety for the Renaissance Food Group, and chairwoman of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council, said in the release.

“Given the various paths my peers and I have taken to become produce safety professionals, I’m confident this program will help ensure a well-trained workforce is following in our footsteps,” she said in the release.

United Fresh CEO and President Tom Stenzel said the organization has hired produce safety professionals since the 1990s, with Jennifer McEntire and Emily Griep in that role currently. They developed the new food safety program as an extension of United Fresh’s overall leadership program, he said.

“We are building upon that foundation to give a select group of promising produce safety professionals the benefit of in-depth experiential learning, coupled with the support of the best and brightest mentors in the industry,” McEntire, vice president of food safety, said in the release.

The program is $8,995, and covers tuition in the program, ongoing mentorship, hotel rooms and registration to three United Fresh events in 2020:

  • Freshstart Conference, Jan. 14-16, Tucson, Ariz.;
  • United Fresh Convention and Expo, June 16-19, San Diego; and
  • United Fresh Washington Conference, Sept. 21-23, Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Produce Safety Immersion Program and to submit an application, visit www.unitedfresh.org. Applications are due by Nov. 1, and members of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council will select the participants, according to the release.

United Fresh will announce the selected participants in December.