AMS offers webinars for produce industry
A series of Web seminars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is designed to help fresh produce companies better understand the regulations that pertain to growing, handling, shipping, distributing and selling their commodities.
The series is free and all sessions are archived on the AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program website after their initial presentation. For additional details, visit http://tinyurl.com/AMS-series on the Internet.
Upcoming seminar topics include: the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act on April 25; marketing orders and agreements on July 18; and fresh produce market inspection basics on Aug. 16.
Arrowhead to trace spuds back to field
With the help of a $300,000 Value-Added Producer Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Arrowhead Potato Co. plans to soon be able to trace each and every spud back to the specific field where it was grown.
Klade Williams, chief financial officer for the Rupert, Idaho-based potato packer/shipper, said anticipated traceability requirements from the federal government was one factor behind Arrowhead requesting the grant.
Williams and Arrowhead general manager Ron Jones both said they did not want to be in a position of having to catch up.
To “stay ahead of the curve,” Williams wrote the grant request seeking money for new machinery, software and employee training.
The company has 48 full-time employees and ships potatoes for about 10 farms, including sister company Moss Produce.
BioSafe Systems offers food safety products
A new activated peroxide product from BioSafe Systems LLC is 99.9% effective against a variety of bacteriological pathogens and a safe alternative to chlorine-based products, according to the East Hartford, Conn.-based company.
Justin Crane, BioSafe post harvest/food safety brand manager, said SaniDate Sanitizing Wipes are compliant with National Organic Program standards for use in organic operations, and are available in bulk quantities for commercial customers.
The wipes are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and designed to eliminate bacteria without leaving harmful residues. No rinsing is necessary after their use. They are designed for use on hard, non-porous surfaces such as those present in fresh-cut produce facilities and foodservice operations.
BioSafe also recently introduced OxiDate 2.0 bactericide/fungicide. The product is designed for spray and aerial application to crops. It contains an activated peroxygen formulation using a 2% peracetic acid in combination with stabilized hydrogen peroxide to combat fungal and bacterial pathogens.
OxiDate 2.0 is available in 2.5 gallon, 5 gallon, 30 gallon, 55 gallon and 275 gallon sizes.
The Food Institute updates recall manual
The fourth edition of Upper Saddle River, N.J.-based The Food Institute’s Food Products Recall Manual is available and includes updated tips on how to remove a product from distribution channels and consumers’ hands.
Food recalls in the last quarter of 2011 were up more than 50% compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, but that number represents all food recalls, including meat, dairy and other foods in addition to fresh produce, according to The Food Institute’s website.
Regardless of the type of food involved, numerous legal and logistical issues arise during a recall, and the manual from The Food Institute includes step-by-step guidelines for any size business faced with issuing a recall. Tips include how to deal with the media and what government requirements companies must fulfill to avoid penalties.
The manual specifically addresses fresh produce recalls. It also includes samples of recall notices and news releases, as well as Food and Drug Administration guidelines and regulations.
For additional information call the institute at (201) 791-5570 or visit www.foodinstitute.com/recall.cfm.
IFT videos could help retailers, farmers markets
Two new videos produced by the Institute of Food Technologies, Chicago, could be used in retail and farmers market settings to help reduce illnesses related to foodborne pathogens.
Released March 8 in conjunction with National Agriculture Day, the videos were designed to help consumers be smarter shoppers. However, Stephanie Callahan, media relations specialist for IFT, said the videos could be used in stores and markets.
Retailers and operators of farmers markets who would like to use the videos should contact IFT at 312-604-0256.
“Food Safety in the Produce Aisle” discusses the importance of temperature control with fresh produce. It reminds consumers to look for refrigerated cases when buying produce and to store it in their home refrigerators at 40 degrees.
“Smart Tips for Shopping at Farmer’s Markets” describes what to watch for when buying fresh produce in settings other than traditional supermarkets. It also reminds consumers that a claim of “locally grown” does not mean produce is any less likely to have dirt or pathogens, and stresses the importance of washing fresh fruits and vegetables.
PMA offers members FSMA updates, details
In anticipation of the Food and Drug Administration’s produce safety rule, the Produce Marketing Association has taken steps to ensure its members have the most current information and the opportunity to discuss it with their peers.
The Newark, Del.-based association now has three methods to keep members informed:
- Sign up for automatic updates from PMA about the Food Safety Modernization Act at http://tinyurl.com/PMA-FSMAupdates;
- Visit the association’s FSMA Resource Page at http://tinyurl.com/PMA-FSMAresources; and
- Post questions and participate in discussions on the PMA Xchange website at http://tinyurl.com/Xchange-PMA.
RedLine seeks small growers for test
Growers with smaller operations have the opportunity to help RedLine Solutions test a new traceability product designed specifically for them.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company plans to launch PTI Lite this spring, but an advance version is available for growers interested in helping make sure it is functioning at optimum levels.
Based on requirements of the Produce Traceability Initiative, the PTI Lite product is expected to cost less than $5,000 for the basic setup, which includes a bar code printer, cabling and software with a variety of templates for case and hybrid pallet labels.
The system also manages records required for traceability, but it is not an inventory tracking program.
Todd Baggett, chief executive officer for RedLine, said the main difference between PTI Lite and RedLine’s traceability products for larger companies is that it is designed to run on one personal computer with a printer. It is for post-packaging labeling and designed for operations that pack up to 2,500 cases a day.
To apply to be an “early adopter,” visit the company’s website at www.redlinesolutions.com.
United Fresh, USDA offer inspection classes
The next session of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association’s produce inspection training program is set for May 21-25 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s training center in Fredericksburg, Va. It also will be offered Sept. 10-14.
The program uses USDA instructors to provide hands-on training designed to help produce receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the produce inspection process. A discount in registration fees is available for United Fresh members.
Class size is limited and registrations are on a first come, first served basis. Details are available at http://tinyurl.com/UF-training or by calling (202) 303-3405. Two separate classes are offered. Attendees can attend either or both classes.
“Fundamentals of Produce Inspection” is a two-day class focusing on inspection essentials, sampling procedures and general market principles. It is a prerequisite for the other class, “Commodity Labs.”
The labs class is three days and applies the principles learned in the inspection class to the five most commonly requested commodities: grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes. Up to seven additional commodities will be included based on the attendees’ most common preferences.
University releases leafy greens research
The University of Georgia has completed a four-year research project on minimizing E. coli in leafy greens and has launched a website to share the findings.
The project — “A systems approach to minimize Escherichia coli O157:H7 food safety hazards associated with fresh and fresh-cut leafy greens” — involved numerous researchers and representatives from the fresh produce industry. It looked at leafy greens from farm to fork to find ways to retain the quality of leafy greens while ensuring food safety.
The new website, www.ugacfs.org/producesafety/Index.html, not only includes results of the four-year project, but it also provides food safety tips for growers, shippers and others in the supply chain. There is also a collection of tables that contain a compilation of peer-reviewed studies that address the safety of leafy greens.
The steering committee for the research project included several representatives from the supply chain, such as staff from: Earthbound Farm, San Juan Bautista, Calif.; Tanimura & Antle, Salinas, Calif.; Whole Foods Market Inc., Austin, Texas; and Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y.
By staff writer Coral Beach