Published online: Nov 12, 2012 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting
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WASHINGTON, D.C.-The United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Food Safety & Quality, will conduct three installments of its popular Produce Inspection Training Program in 2013. These hands-on training sessions, executed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), are designed to help produce industry members better understand the breadth of the produce inspection process.

"This course prepares produce handlers to better understand the complexities of product quality inspection," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president, member services, foundation. "We continue to see many new and returning companies take advantage of the hands-on, practical format offered in this unique program."

"The quality and safety of America's food are among the highest priorities for USDA," said Charles Parrott, deputy administrator for the AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program. "Over the past 12 years, training courses like this one have helped more than 850 produce handlers become familiar with the standards and requirements that are vital to good handling and manufacturing practices. We will continue to work with the industry to make this training available."

Three Produce Inspection Training Programs will be offered in 2013 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors' Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, Va: Jan. 14-18, June 3-7, and Sept. 16-20.

The program is offered in two specialized courses: Fundamentals of Produce Inspection and Commodity Labs. Upon completion of the Full Course, attendees receive a certificate of completion from United Fresh and 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 (PACA), sampling procedures and general market principles. The three-day Commodity Labs course takes place in the lab 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, and will be customized with additional commodities based on the attendees' most common preferences (up to 12 in total).

Attendees may register for the training seminars on the United Fresh Foundation website at
www.unitedfreshfoundation.org or by contacting Shannon Young, education manager, at (202) 303-3405 or syoung@unitedfresh.org.