Buyers say tomato research gives them leverage

07/09/2013 05:05:00 PM
Coral Beach

McLandsborough also measured salmonella levels on different types of gloves being used in the industry: vinyl, latex, nitrile and low-density polyethylene.

Under an electron microscope the varying roughness of the gloves’ surfaces revealed the nitrile gloves to be much smoother, thus providing fewer locations for pathogens to survive and multiply. Nitrile gloves also showed less pathogen accumulation and could be more effectively cleaned between uses.

“Our conclusion? Glove material matters,” Landsborough said.

Panelist Filindo Colace, vice president of operations for Club Chef Chef LLC (a Castellini Co.), said he was pleased the research supported his company’s decision to use nitrile gloves. He said Danyluk’s research on pathogen transference via tomato cleaning cloths proved Club Chef was also correct to ban them.

Michael Burness, left, and Reggie BrownCoral BeachDuring a panel discussion about pathogen transference in tomato harvesting and handling, Michael Burness, (left) Chiquita's vice president of global quality and food safety, listens as executive director of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange Reggie Brown discusses current industry practices.Chiquita’s Burness said the researchers’ work reinforces the need to focus on clean.

“It’s all so simple with this data,” Burness said about tomato harvesting. “No cloths, new bins, nitrile gloves.”

Reggie Brown, another panel member and executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, expressed caution as far as the need for growers to buy new equipment.

“This shows we can find some contamination but not specific differences between new and old (harvest bins and buckets),” Brown said.

“Our regulations require daily washing and inspection of bins, but these businesses have to be economically successful. We can’t chase down every boogie man. … And we don’t want to move a raw agricultural product to become a finished product.”


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Gary    
Detroit  |  July, 10, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Bogus to PICK ON TOMATOES, again. Go to any supermarket and do the same tests on any bulk item and they will test positive. And no cloths are used!! Produce personnel don't wash their hands after handling boxes which have set on pallets which have set on floors. Consumers don't wash their hands after picking over the bulk produce - after sneezing in their hands, handling dirty shopping carts, etc. Get real people.

Vance    
Phoenix, AZ  |  July, 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Well if the tomato packers don't use the cloths then they can't be blamed and the real culprit (consumers/retail establishments) can take the loss. That being said, anyone who doesn't wash their produce prior to eating it; is a complete nut case and probably deserves to be sick and not allowed to sue because they got sick from contaminated food. It's is NOT about picking on any single commodity, it should be about protecting public health in every way possible. Produce growers, harvesters, and distributors should be ashamed. After all, it could be their own personal family that gets sick.

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