Keeping Florida’s tomato growers and packers updated on food safety practices remains a central part of this year’s Joint Tomato Conference scheduled for Sept. 6-9 in Naples, Fla.

Food safety to be big topic at Florida tomato conferenceIn its 36th year, the conference, co-sponsored by the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee and the Florida Tomato Exchange, is expected to bring a large number of growers, shippers, repackers, brokers and others together to discuss industry issues and look forward to the upcoming season.

“Our sponsorships are returning and supporting the industry,” said Reggie Brown, committee manager and exchange executive vice president. “Needless to say, the prior couple of years have hopefully all been abnormalities. Let’s get back to something normal. It’s been a challenging business. We are looking forward to and are optimistically preparing for a great season in 2011-12.”

One change from previous years involves the tomato food safety training session scheduled for Sept. 6.

While the workshop has traditionally concentrated on grower-shippers, Brown said this year’s session covers material more of interest to packers. He said organizers adjust the workshop’s focus based on changing rules and safety practices.

The state’s mandatory food safety rules require packers and shippers to participate in such courses, which cover T-GAP (tomato good agricultural practices) and T-BMP (tomato best management practices), Brown said,

On Sept. 7, at the start of the Florida Tomato Institute which features researchers discussing the latest in tomato production research, Brown plans to present his yearly state of the Florida tomato industry talk.

On Sept. 8, members of the exchange and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange meet in yearly meetings and elect leaders. Samantha Winters, the committee’s director of education and promotion, is scheduled to present the industry’s 2011-12 tomato promotion campaign.

The convention, which marks its 25th year at the Ritz-Carlton resort, also includes receptions, a dinner-dance and golf tournament.

Read more about the event here