Maryland market works to keep operations food safety compliant

08/10/2012 09:46:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Trying to keep up with the latest and future food safety requirements, the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market is making improvements.

The Jessup, Md.-based facility is making small changes, including replacing entry doors with more modern doors acceptable to food safety audits. The market also is cleaning and painting canopies that hang over the market’s two buildings, said Rose Harrell, market manager.

Maintaining entry doors is critical in heading off problems with rodents, she said.

The market is working with its 23 produce wholesalers and one seafood company that occupy 101 units.

Harrell said wholesalers and market officials want to ensure the operation adheres to coming food safety rules.

She said the market worked with Edward G. Rahll & Sons Inc., Jessup, and a handful of other wholesalers after they completed audits. The auditors’ reports informed the market of its responsibility in helping assure safe product handling, she said.

“People need to understand that the Jessup market is a safe operation that makes food safety and sanitation high priorities with all the tenants and market administration,” Harrell said. “Customers need to know that when they come to the market their food is being handled properly and that the market is very sanitary.”

Harrell said the safety procedures also help maintain the market’s competitiveness.

She said four wholesalers have completed third-party audits.

T.J. Rahll, Rahll’s operations manager, said the market is improving.

“We’re in communication with the market all the time about what they can do on their end to help us be more food safety compliant,” he said. “We have the same goal to be the best and cleanest facility you can have.”

In June, the market finished replacing roofs on both market buildings. The $700,000 project that replaced 20-year-old roofs was funded through the Maryland Food Center Authority.

Because of the slowing economy, the market postponed a planned dock enclosure project scheduled to seal both buildings’ docks. While that project is idle, the market upgraded the sprinkler and electrical system in a portion of one of the two buildings.

Lolo Mengel, a co-owner and general manager of Coosemans D.C. Inc., Jessup, said the specialties purveyor continues to work with the market to renovate all of its 11 market units.

Coosemans upgraded its operations by opening walls between its units and connecting all its coolers.

Mengel said the upgrades represent a big improvement and allow for better cold chain consistency.

The market features 330,000 square feet of distribution space.



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