Dr. Bob Honored with LGMA’s Golden Checkmark Award


LGMA Members

Written by Scott Horsfall

The LGMA’s Golden Checkmark Award is given to those who support government oversight of food safety in the produce industry. Past winners include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura, Congressman Sam Farr, Markon President Tim York and Western Growers’ Tom Nassif. All notable individuals, indeed. And we are pleased to add Dr. Bob to this distinguished list.

Before the LGMA even existed, Bob was involved in shaping this unique public-private partnership. He was one of the many food safety experts who helped develop the LGMA’s original metrics. At that time, Bob worked for New Star Fresh Foods, a shipper of California leafy greens and vegetables and one of the founding members of the LGMA.

Though he left the leafy greens industry soon after the LGMA was established to take on the role as PMA’s Chief Science and Technology Officer, the LGMA has never been far from his thoughts. His leadership at the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has helped to gain knowledge necessary to continually update and improve the LGMA metrics. More importantly, he has a unique ability to interpret research findings and to help all of us better understand how new and emerging science can be used to make produce safer.

I remember fondly participating with Bob Whitaker as part of a panel of food safety experts at an industry event some years ago. It was Bob’s second day on the job with PMA and joining us on the panel was Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli who had been Executive Director of CPS for a month. I was the ‘experienced guy’ on the panel with six months under my belt at the LGMA.

That was 12 years ago – but it seems like yesterday. To be honest, I can’t imagine what the world of produce food safety will be like without Dr. Bob Whitaker. He has been such a great leader, a fantastic communicator, a caring teacher, an untiring advocate and, most importantly, a good friend.

Thank you, Bob, for all you’ve done for the produce community. You will be missed.

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