University of California

Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to introduce a diverse and respected panel of Keynote Speakers for this conference, including:

Jeff Brandenburg
Jeff Brandenburg

Rudi Groppe
Heinzen Manufacturing

Jeff Brecht
Jeffrey Brecht

University of Florida
Latifah Mohd Nor
colelli, g.
Giancarlo Colelli

University of Foggia
Anne Plotto
Anne Plotto
Roberta Cook
Cooperative Extension Specialist
UC Davis
Elliot T. Ryser
Michigan State University
Merete Edelenbos

Associate Professor
Aarhus University
Brooke Schwartz

Brooke Schwartz Consulting
Forney, Charles
Charles Forney

Agri-Food Canada
Trevor Suslow at Golden Gate Bridge
Trevor Suslow
Cooperative Extension Specialist
UC Davis
Maria Isabel Gil
Maria Isabel Gil
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Murcia, Spain                           
Alessandro Turatti

Turatti Srl/North America
Gustavo Gonzalez-Aguilar 

Jeff Brandenburg has 33 years of experience in packaging. Jeff has a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University, with a minor Biomedical Engineering, and a M.S. in Food Safety from Michigan State University. He serves on the food safety and technology council of the United Fresh Produce Association; is the primary author and reviewer of numerous trade articles as well as association guidance documents. Jeff was the lead author for the Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) chapter for CRC’s latest publication on Modified and Controlled Atmospheres. Jeff is an adjunct Professor of Microbiology at a local college and has been certified by The National Good Agricultural Practice Program at Cornell University as a GAPs (Good agricultural Practices) Online Produce Safety Course Instructor for the State of Massachusetts GAP training program. He is also an authorized consultant for the State of Massachusetts Farm Viability Program and has worked with numerous Farming operations.

The JSB Group, LLC is an international consulting company specializing in packaging design and technology, post-harvest technology, and food safety, for the fresh food industry. The mission of the JSB Group, LLC is to be the leading global technology resource for the flexible, produce, and food packaging industries by providing participating companies technical, sales, marketing, market research, training, and management support.

Jeffrey K. Brecht, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Food Distribution and Retailing (CFDR) at the University of Florida, which brings agricultural scientists and engineers together with companies involved in the distribution and selling of perishable foods to conduct multidisciplinary research.  As CFDR Director he interacts with commodity associations, packers, shippers, distributors, importers, exporters, processors and retailers to extend information regarding advances in perishable food handling.  Dr. Brecht is also a Professor and Postharvest Extension Specialist at the University of Florida and teaches the course, ‘Principles of Postharvest Horticulture’.  His primary research interests revolve around the development of new technologies and practices in the distribution system to enhance fruit and vegetable quality.  He has authored over 300 technical publications including over 130 refereed journal papers.  He was named a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor in 2002 and a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science in 2006. 

Giancarlo Colelli is a Professor of “Equipments for postharvest handling” at the University of Foggia, Italy, where he also chairs the Doctorate Program on “Innovation Management in Agricultural and Food Systems of the Mediterranean Region”. Main R&D activities primarily deal with process implications on quality of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables and non-destructive technology for assessment of quality attributes. Together with other colleagues he has organized all the editions of the “European Short-course on Quality & Safety of Fresh-cut Produce” (in Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and UK). As principal investigator he has coordinated more than 20 national and International R&D programs; he is presently the scientific coordinator of QUAFETY, funded by the European Commission (7th Framework Program) with 14 partners from 7 Countries ( He is author of more than 180 scientific publications in refereed journals, book chapters and technical magazines.

Roberta Cook has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University. Since 1985 she has been the Cooperative Extension Marketing Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at University of California, Davis. She conducts an applied research and industry outreach program focusing on the marketing and international trade of fresh fruits and vegetables, including studies on international competitiveness, and trends in consumer demand and food distribution. In addition to her work on the U.S. food marketing system, she has extensive international marketing expertise on issues such as: modernizing domestic food distribution systems in Latin America; identifying fruit and vegetable import/export opportunities throughout the Western Hemisphere; European fruit and vegetable marketing trends; and the structure of the Mexican horticultural industry, with special emphasis on the vegetable export industries in Sinaloa, Baja California and the Bajio. She is fluent in Spanish and regularly lectures in Spanish throughout Latin America.
She has been invited to serve on numerous industry, academic and governmental boards and committees.

Merete Edelenbos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science, Aarhus University in Denmark.  She is leading a group of young scientist focusing on the postharvest handling, storage and packaging of fresh produce.  Edelenbos has a long career in assessment of postharvest and processing quality and understanding the chemical, physical and sensory properties leading to quality changes. Her work is mainly focused on root vegetables and Brassica crops. Dr. Edelenbos has been leading several consortiums of companies and researchers on fresh-cut products and packaging of fresh produce and she is author/co-author of 130 publications in refereed journals, book chapters and technical magazines.    

Charles Forney holds degrees in Biology and Horticulture from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. from Oregon State University. For the past 23 years he has conducted research for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre in Kentville, Nova Scotia, served as Study Leader of the Postharvest Program, and acted as Director of Operations of the Centre.  His research involves the development of technologies to maintain the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout storage and marketing.  This has included the control of posthavest decay and senescence of both whole and fresh-cut product by optimizing postharvest handling through the use of precooling, atmosphere modification, packaging and a variety of postharvest treatments. He has an ongoing interest in understanding flavour changes in fruits and vegetables that occur during ripening and postharvest handling in order to develop technologies to optimize flavour in the marketplace.

Maria (Mabel) Isabel Gil has a Pharmacy degree and a PhD in Biology. She is a senior researcher at the Food Science and Technology Department at CEBAS-CSIC institute in Murcia, Spain.

Her research activities are related to Quality and Safety of fresh produce, particularly fresh-cut leafy vegetables. She coordinates an expert group involved in fundamental and applied aspects of preharvest and postharvest factors affecting quality and safety of leafy vegetables. One of the main tasks is the control of microbiological contamination during production, processing and storage. Another important task is the evaluation of the effect of different agronomic, genetic and technological factors on phytochemical content. She is the leader of R&D projects with companies. She has participated in European and National Research Programs. She collaborates with national and international groups.

Gustavo Gonzalez-Aguilar is a research scientist of the Center of Research in Food Development (Mexico) specializing in fresh-cut of tropical and subtropical fruits, postharvest technology, antioxidants and functional foods, food preservation and development of new technologies. His primary research interest is study the effects of abiotic and biotic stress on antioxidant status of fruit and vegetables. Other area of interest is the study of different postharvest treatments to prolong the shelf life of fruits and vegetables and how these factors affects the bioaccessibility and bioavailability of bioactive molecules after simulated digestion in vitro and in vivo and their possible health benefits.  He has authored over 130 scientific publications (JCR) including over 35 book chapters and 7 books.  He participate in different networks on food preservation, fresh-cut, antioxidants and functional foods. His extension work includes participation in training and design of fresh-cut facilities in Mexico and Latin-America. He is leader of the network antioxidants and functional foods in Mexico supported by the Mexican council (CONACYT).

Rudi Groppe is the President and Co-Owner, Heinzen Manufacturing International. Heinzen Manufacturing provides system engineering and process equipment to the fresh produce processing industry. Rudi Groppe is a graduate of California State University Sacramento, receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Rudi joined Heinzen Manufacturing, Inc. in 1991 as a Project Engineer. During his 20 plus year career with HMI he has held several different positions from Engineering to Sales Management. During his career with Heinzen he has been involved at some level with every major project produced by Heinzen Manufacturing, Inc. Rudi also participates in the United Fresh Board of Directors and is on the editorial advisory board for the Produce Processing magazine.

Latifa Mohd Nor has a Master's Degree in Postharvest Biochemistry. She has been a Senior Principal Research Officer at Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) since 1979, specializing in postharvest physiology, storage and handling of flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Her experience includes leading the group in pioneering the successful commercial  trials of: sea shipment of ginger, ready to eat chilled durian, and cut chrysanthemum flowers; air shipment of fresh-cut pineapple and jackfruit; and refrigerated trailer transportation of fresh-cut durian, jackfruit and pineapple.  She has published more than 120 articles for journals, book chapters, and local and international proceedings.

Anne Plotto has an Agricultural Engineering degree from Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie, Montpellier, France, and MS and PhD in Horticulture and Plant Physiology from Oregon State University, USA. She has worked throughout her career towards improving eating quality in fruit by using horticultural practices and evaluating breeding lines of many temperate and subtropical fruits.  Her current research at the USDA-ARS, US Horticultural Research Laboratory (USHRL) in Fort Pierce (FL) focuses on flavor analysis and sensory evaluation of fruit and fruit products as affected by postharvest conditions and/or processing.

Elliot Ryser, a Milwaukee native and 35 year member of IAFP, received his B.S. in Bacteriology, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin under the leadership of Dr. Elmer H. Marth.  After research positions at INRA (Jouy-en-Josas, France), Silliker Laboratories (Chicago Heights, IL) and the University of Vermont under Dr. Catherine Donnelly, he joined the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University in 1998 where he is now a Distinguished Professor.  An internationally recognized authority on Listeria and co-author/co-editor of the well-known book entitled Listeria, Listeriosis and Food Safety, Elliot’s research currently focuses on cross-contamination and quantifying bacterial transfer during both slicing of deli meats and pilot plant-scale production of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables with his findings being used to refine various risk assessments.  Elliot has advised 61 graduate students (9 PhD and 16 MS as major professor), authored/co-authored 28 book chapters, 103 research articles – over half of which have appeared in the Journal of Food Protection, along with 203 abstracts, 107 of which were presented at IAFP annual meetings. He currently serves as one of four Co-Scientific Editors for the Journal of Food Protection, is a past recipient of the Elmer Marth Educator, Maurice Weber Laboratorian and President’s Recognition Awards from IAFP and a Fellow of both IAFP and IFT.

Brooke Schwartz has over 20 years of experience in strategy, business development and general management in life science and food and agriculture markets.  As Principal of Brooke Schwartz Consulting, she assists companies with commercialization and adoption of new food safety technologies, including developing market entry strategies, creating strategic partnerships, and establishing technology evaluations with government and private sector customers.   She currently serves as Chair-Elect of the AOAC Research Institute, an independent international organization that validates food and environmental testing methods.  She also serves as Co-Chair of the AOAC International Fresh Produce Initiative, which brings together stakeholders from the international produce industry, regulatory agencies and test method developers to develop consensus standards for use in produce testing.  

Ms. Schwartz previously held business management and corporate development roles at Applied Biosystems / Life Technologies.  As Business Segment Leader for Food and Environmental Testing, she led the re-launch of the global food and environmental testing business. As Senior Director for Corporate Strategy and Merger Integration at Applied Biosystems, she led merger integration and evaluated technology investment opportunities. Prior to Life Technologies, she led strategy, innovation and M&A engagements for Deloitte Consulting’s health care and life science practice, and previously served as Director of Biotechnology Alliances and Acquisitions for Monsanto Company.   Ms. Schwartz earned an M.B.A from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida, and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.  She speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and has extensive experience in international markets.  

Trevor Suslow is an Extension Research Specialist at the University of California, Davis with statewide responsibilities in quality and safety of perishable horticultural commodities. Dr. Suslow’s program spans preharvest to postharvest research and outreach education on diverse fresh and minimally-processed horticultural foods from annual row crops to tree and vine commodities. He has served on the Center for Produce Safety Board of Directors and Technical Committee since its creation in 2008. His research combines lab and on-farm/packing facility research on E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria in conventional and organic production systems, for the purpose of identifying opportunities for optimal microbial reductions and delivery of safe food to the consumer. Dr. Suslow received his BSc. In Agricultural Sciences (with High Honors) and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Suslow helped found and worked at Advanced Genetic Sciences and DNA Plant Technology Corp. from 1981 to 1995 before joining UCD. Trevor was named to Food Safety News list of The Best of Food Safety in Education and recently selected to The Packer 25 Profiles in Leadership award.

Alessandro Turatti is the VP and Sales Director of Turatti Srl and the President of Turatti North America. He is the fifth generation of the family-owned company (founded in 1869 in Venice - Italy) and he earned his Ph.D. cum laude in "Political Science" at the University of Padua. His thesis was published and became a college textbook and he received an MBA from the University Bocconi in Milan. Dr. Turatti has sat for eight years on the board of IFPA (International Fresh-Cut Produce Association) and of United Fresh, coordinating the European activities. He currently sits in the board of Confindustria Venice (the "Industrial Association of Italy") and he recently assisted the activities heading toward the 2015 World Expo held in Milan, using the motto "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". He also supported the preparation of the recent World Congress on Hygienic Engineering & Design organized by EHEDG. He wrote several articles and book chapters on "Food Safety", "Fresh-Cut" and "Hygienic Design" and he is frequently a speaker all around the world on these same topics.

He is a frequent business traveler and out of almost three hundred days each year spent abroad, more than half are spent in North America. His vision is to turn the family company into the preferred solutions provider in the global food processing business. He can be contacted at


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