Atlanta wholesalers keep on top of food safety procedures

04/27/2009 04:35:49 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Produce distributors on the Atlanta State Farmers Market, Forest Park, Ga., take food safety seriously.

They watch what happened to shippers of commodities such as tomatoes, hot peppers and peanuts, and work to make sure their operations are up to date on food safety procedures.

Food safety has long been a priority for Phoenix Wholesale Foodservice Inc., Forest Park.

David Collins III, president, said the distributor has for years taken a proactive approach to the topic.

Phoenix has three Serve Safe-trained trainers, which conduct Serve Safe courses for some of its customers.

Phoenix also has a full-time third-party quality assurance manager that has more than 20 years experience overseeing Phoenix’s program, and has employed a doctor from a major university to review Phoenix’s food safety procedures.

“We have carried food safety an extra step further,” Collins said. “We have had a very rigid and functional as well as proactive foodservice quality assurance program. We want to make sure we’re very consistent in what we do.”

Phoenix also routinely undergoes third party auditing of its procedures, Collins said.

Certification achievements

J.J. Jardina Co. Inc., Atlanta, has achieved food safety certification.

The fruit distributor received U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety certification in January.

Primuslabs.com last spring conducted audits and certified Jardina’s operations.

“We have gone through all of the training and certification processes,” said Mike Jardina, president. “We did this to make sure that we are safe and can take care of customers that have to have that before we can become one of their vendors, as certification is necessary for some of the larger chains.”

Jardina said such certification got a slow start in the produce industry.

Jardina said he believes acceptance of the standards should increase fairly quickly.

Jardina said bad news in the media such as the recent peanut situation has helped awaken many distributors to the need for such safety programs.

Jardina, founded in 1925, distributes produce primarily to retailers and other wholesalers, while about 20% of its sales go to foodservice purveyors.

Updating warehouses

General Produce Inc., Atlanta, was in the process of getting all of its warehouses up to third-party compliance, said Andrew Scott, sales and procurement manager.

Such an updating of food safety standards, he said, would be challenging and require time as the buildings on the market, owned by the state of Georgia, were built in 1989.


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