During the 51 years Los Angeles-based Fruit Distributing Corp. of California has been in business, the company never has had a food-safety issue connected with the company, its growers or its handlers, and owner-president Jeff Weisfeld plans to keep it that way.
“It goes way beyond luck,” he said. “We know our growers and suppliers and deal with reputable, high-quality people.”
Even though only a few stores have asked about its food safety practices, the company constantly makes sure it labels product properly labeled, eliminates diseased merchandise and ensures that it meets other food safety criteria, he said.
“We’re almost on autopilot” when it comes to food safety, Weisfeld said.
Bandwagon Brokerage is based in an old building in Los Angeles, “but it is immaculate,” said Dennis Berman, president.
But the company’s customers know the firm has been on the lookout for a new facility, whether it’s to buy or build, for about three years. And they’ve been dealing with Bandwagon for so long that they’re familiar with the company’s strict food safety criteria.
“They know we keep a clean house,” he said.
Buyers demand high standards, and Berman said today’s falling real estate prices might provide the chance the firm has been waiting for to snap up a property at a relatively bargain rate that will afford an opportunity to provide an even safer environment, he said.
One advantage the company has is that the firm does very little repacking. Most products simply go in and out with little or no touching.
Coosemans L.A. Inc., Los Angeles, isn’t directly involved on the growing end, but still, if a restaurant has a problem with a food item its purchased from the company, general manager Alan Pollack will be able to take action.
“Most of the industry has been working very diligently for the last couple of years — especially after spinach (recall) — to put in some type of a food safety and recall program,” Pollack, said. “It affects us all.”
Coosemans is Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-certified and meets set standards for refrigeration, storage, record keeping and clothing, such as gloves and hairnets, he said.
Prime Tropical Inc. on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market has assigned two employees to continuously scrub the company’s 13,000 square feet of floors inside the warehouse and on the loading dock from 1 a.m. until the facility closes every day, said Rocky Ramirez, one of the owners.
“(Food safety) is something we have always been aware of in this market,” he said, “We’re always conscious of it. We just do it without even thinking about it.”
Doing the right thing when it comes to food safety isn’t always easy, and “It’s very expensive,” Pollack said, especially for a small business.
Besides requiring a major time commitment, Pollack said following myriad food safety rules and regulations can require a minimum of one to five new job descriptions that the company must fill.
Fruit Distributing Corp. of California puts up a $3 million bond just because the firm is “a link in the chain,” even though workers are just handling boxes, not growing, packing or processing fruits or vegetables, Weisfeld said.