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PMA’s Gorny tapped to fill new role at FDA

James Gorny, vice president of food safety and technology at the Produce Marketing Association, is stepping down to serve as senior science adviser for produce safety at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, where he will be developing and coordinating implementation strategies for the Food Safety Modernization Act produce safety standards.Gorney WEB 130502 7412 RGB

In this newly created position, Gorny will facilitate, coordinate and advise FDA senior leadership regarding policies, programs and high-priority scientific matters affecting the safety of fresh produce. He will be responsible for helping to turn FSMA’s new produce safety regulations into realities.

The task touches every part of the supply chain: farms, processing plants, distributors, transportation, retailers and every other stop between the field and the plate. As with all new regulations, the greatest initial need is for regulatory guidance, education and training to provide for harmonized, effective and efficient compliance and enforcement.

“My job is going to be about building bridges,” said Gorny. “Between the states and the FDA, for example, because of the huge role states have in inspecting farms. But also between all parts of the supply chain and the FDA because not only do we have to make sure everyone knows what they need to do, we also have to make sure we arrive at ways of doing those things that are as practical as possible. I’ve heard loud and clear in my role at PMA that produce businesses have a strong desire to get FSMA implementation right.”

The new position will be a return of sorts for Gorny. Prior to his role at PMA, Gorny was senior adviser for the Office of Food Safety at the FDA, where he advised staff on policies and programs affecting the safety of fresh produce.

Gorny’s return to FDA is cause for both pride and sadness for Bob Whitaker, PMA’s chief science and technology officer, who hired Gorny for the association nearly five years ago.

“If ever there was a right person for a job, Jim is it,” said Whitaker. “I hate for PMA and the industry to lose him, but I am delighted that he is going to continue the excellent work he did here on an even bigger scale. Jim and I share the belief that food safety isn’t something you add to your business; it is the entire way you do business. I know that is a point of view Jim will carry with him to the FDA. It has served our members well, and now it will serve our country well.”

Gorny will assume his new role on Feb. 5 and will report to Susan Mayne, director of the FDA Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition in College Park, MD.

Gorny’s career includes stints as executive director of the Postharvest Technology Research & Information Center at the University of California-Davis, and as senior vice president of food safety and technology for United Fresh Produce Association and the International Fresh-cut Produce Association. He has worked in industry at Pillsbury Green Giant and as general manager of a fresh-cut processing plant. He holds multiple degrees in food science and a Ph.D. in plant biology.