Michigan Apple News

posted on October 07, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

New seminars announced to address food safety, crisis planning

(Grand Rapids, Mich.) – How prepared is your company to handle a food crisis – whether real or perceived? In the wake of the months-long food safety scare involving tomatoes and peppers this summer, the Michigan Apple Association (MAA) has organized two workshops to benefit Michigan’s fruit and vegetable industries.

Denise Donohue, MAA executive director, said this year’s outbreak of foodborne illness cost the tomato industry an estimated $140 million in lost sales and cast a shadow of doubt over the entire fresh produce supply.

"Food groups like ours cannot sit back and ignore safety issues," said Donohue. "Statistics show that 60 percent of all companies impacted by a food recall or a food safety scare will go out of business within two years. That’s alarming and we must do something about it. Advance planning and training can certainly minimize the risk."

Two November workshops, sponsored by MAA and taught by national experts, will help prepare Michigan’s apple and fresh produce industries for a crisis situation:

Crisis Planning & Crisis Communication – Wednesday, Nov. 12, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., JW Marriott in Grand Rapids Produce Traceability – Thursday, Nov. 13, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., JW Marriott in Grand Rapids

The first workshop will be led by nationally-renowned communications counselor Gene Grabowski from Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, DC. Grabowski, who leads crisis planning workshops for USDA, will take participants through a day-long session covering topics such as what is a crisis, establishing a crisis plan, relaying your story to the media and hypothetical crisis exercises. Tuition is $1,040.

The second workshop will be led by Gary Fleming of the Produce Marketing Association, headquartered in Washington, DC. An expert in the field of food traceability, Fleming will cover such key topics as specific mandates by retailers and government, detailed explanations of internal and external traceability systems and real-life scenarios that could happen in Michigan.

Fleming will focus on the new Produce Traceability Initiative, which was developed by a consortium of retailers, foodservice buyers and produce suppliers since January 2008. The initiative will give produce growers and handlers workable and definable guidelines to survive a produce safety threat and to provide leadership to a federal government ready to tighten regulations.

Tuition for the traceability workshop is $110 with a discount if paid by Oct. 17.
"In a 24-hour news cycle where rumors become ‘facts’ on the internet in no time, you’ll need to be proactive to avoid getting run over," said Donohue. "We have decided to bring these two programs to Michigan because so much of our fruit and vegetable industry depends on food safety and preparedness."

Interested participants have until Wednesday, Nov. 5 to make a reservation. Space is limited for both sessions. Call (517) 669-8353 for further information.

MAA is a trade association consisting of growers, shippers, processors and allied industry members guided by a seven-member board of directors. Founded in 2005, MAA handles such issues as grant applications, issue advocacy on behalf of the industry and educational outreach for the Michigan apple industry.

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