Bob Whitaker, recently retired, served as the chief science and technology officer for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). In that role, Bob was responsible for food safety, technology, supply chain management, and sustainability. He also served on the Center for Produce Safety's Board of Directors as well as on the California Leafy Greens Technical Committee. Prior to joining PMA, Bob spent 16 years in the biotechnology arena with DNA Plant Technology Corporation as a researcher, and then as vice president of fruit and vegetable R&D. Bob's career has also included roles at NewStar Fresh Foods and its subsidiary MissionStar Processing.

Bob earned his doctorate in biology from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Jennifer McEntire is the vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association. Before that, she was the vice president of science operations for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. She has also had roles as vice president and chief science officer at The Acheson Group and as the senior staff scientist and director of science and technology projects for the Institute of Food Technologists. She is an advisory board member of the Global Food Traceability Center, the technical committee of the Center for Produce Safety, and she serves on the executive committee of the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance.

Jennifer earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University as a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Needs Fellow in food safety. 

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In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Bob and Jen [18:13] about:

  • Today's most pressing food safety issues in the produce sector
  • The importance of personal engagement and individual operations
  • Traceability challenges
  • The benefits of having an electronic-based traceability system 
  • Working with the Romaine Task Force
  • Changes with how irrigation water is treated
  • Providing federal and government agencies with the industry knowledge they need to complete an outbreak investigation
  • What information agencies need when they conduct a traceback investigation
  • Traceability issues with commingled food commodities
  • Why blockchain is not a magical solution

Bob's Articles in Food Safety Magazine
Latest Research Findings Hit on Produce Safety Priorities 
Confronting Food Safety Challenges Head-On in Produce 
The Supply Chain and Food Safety Culture: Primary Production 
The Supply Chain and Food Safety Culture: Sector Leaders Sharing Their Challenges and Recommended Practices

Jen's Articles in Food Safety Magazine
Fixing FSMA's Ag Water Requirements 
Environmental Monitoring in the Era of Whole-Genome Sequencing
Building Food Safety Leaders
Product Tracing in Food Systems: Legislation vs. Reality

News Mentioned in This Episode
Chipotle's Use of Nurses to Verify Employee Cases of Norovirus [2:52]
2020 Goals for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service [7:41]
The Frozen Food Listeria Lot Risk Assessment Tool [9:39]
Update: Tyson Foods Wins Lawsuit Against USDA [15:27]

Sponsored by:


Safe Food California
Safe Food Alliance