Developed by a group of leading produce food safety experts and representatives of operations within the industry, the document provides food safety guidance for the entire lettuce and leafy greens supply chain, including production and harvest, post-harvest, fresh-cut and value added, distribution, and end-user handling operations, according to the four groups. The document identifies specific food safety guidance to lettuce growers, shippers, packers, processors, transportation providers, retailers, and foodservice operators.
"United, PMA, IFPA, WG and our industry partners have made food safety our top priority," said Dr. Jim Gorny, vice president of quality assurance and technology for United and editor-in-chief of the document. "We are committed to continual improvement of produce safe handling practices and suggest that all companies involved in the lettuce and leafy greens supply chain consider the recommendations contained within these guidelines."
IFPA, PMA, United, WG and industry partners also support educational outreach efforts to assure awareness and use of available lettuce and leafy greens food safety information. In addition, these leading produce trade organizations will work together to review and implement these and other important produce industry food safety guidelines.
"Our organizations are committed to the common goal of assuring consumer confidence in the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables," said Kathy Means, PMA vice president of government relations. "Everyone in the supply chain is responsible for food safety. Our industry takes this charge very seriously and is proud of the contribution we make to the health of consumers by providing foods that are not only safe but essential for good health."
"With this unprecedented, collaborative effort among industry members, academic experts and government, the fresh produce industry has made important strides in food safety," said David Gombas, Ph.D., vice president of technical services for IFPA. "We believe the development of these safe handling practices represents notable progress toward our goal of zero illnesses, and we will continue to work as a united industry to reach that target."
"This first edition of the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidance is an important part of a comprehensive approach to further enhancing the safety of the food supply," said Hank Giclas, WG vice president, science and technology. Our trade associations are also collaborating to improve communication between government and industry food safety experts, bring meaningful education and outreach to the industry and support research to improve food safety. The guidelines are a living, breathing document and will be updated periodically to reflect changing industry practice or new scientific knowledge."
At a time when foodservice distribution executives have been focusing on fresh produce, the guidelines will benefit their entire organizations, sales reps and operator-customers.
The document is available at www.fresh-cuts.org, www.pma.com, www.uffva.org and www.wga.com