This is an unprecedented event in the produce industry. The only responsible thing to do in a situation like this is to review everything. But there has never been an outbreak quite like this. There is no road map to show us which way to go. So we are talking with academics, scientists and globally-recognized auditing bodies, such as NSF Agriculture, about other options to validate our food safety requirements. We also continue to be involved with both the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association and their industry-wide traceability initiative. And we are working with auditing standards such as SQF and have helped develop and incorporate produce-specific auditing metrics. We are committed to evaluating all options and acting in a leadership role in the effort to enhance food safety.
Q10. What are Frontera’s plans for sourcing Rocky Ford cantaloupes next season?
It is important to remember that this is not about Rocky Ford cantaloupes. According to everything we’re aware of, it is about the unusual presence of listeria in one packing facility. Researchers and health officials are still trying to figure out how, if at all, this could change food safety protocols and consumer advice. In addition, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar is working with cantaloupe growers in his state to reinforce food safety protocols, and we fully support those efforts. At this point, we have made no specific plans for next summer.
Q11. What are the general future plans for Frontera?
We will move ahead with confidence in serving our customers, and a continuing commitment to strengthen the industry’s food safety and traceability efforts.
Our traceability system is one of the most sophisticated in the industry, and under very trying circumstances, it helped us quickly notify customers, enabling the removal of potentially contaminated product from the marketplace. We are one of the first companies to introduce item-level traceability, recently launching it for pineapples. We will continue to aggressively pursue food safety and traceability improvements through our involvement in the Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association and auditing organizations. I will continue to invest in our people, our products, and our customers.