York said as a foodservice supplier, Markon worked through a variety of issues with many different suppliers to ensure food safety.
“Some people say things like ‘nobody eats raw potatoes,’ but there are cross-contamination issues in the kitchen,” York said. “Resistance is futile. We require food safety programs.”
Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral operations for Wegmans, Rochester, N.Y., said food safety is a complex topic but an easy one to prioritize.
“We’re just out to not make our customers sick,” Corsi said. “We won’t partner with growers or processors or others who can’t prove they have and use food safety programs.”
Corsi said Wegmans officials realize food safety can be expensive, especially for smaller growers. Therefore, the company reimburses small growers $400 per successful audit.
Echoing a comment by Whitaker earlier in the workshop, Corsi said food safety people should not report to sales managers. “Ours report to our consumer affairs people.”
Martin Ley, owner of the new consulting firm Fresh Evolution, Nogales, Ariz., said during his career his attitude about the Food and Drug Administration and other governmental entities has changed in relation to food safety.
He worked for Del Campo Supreme for 20 years before launching his consultancy. When he left Del Campo earlier this year he was vice president.
“We started being interactive with FDA instead of defensive because we realized the growers didn’t know how to fix things,” Ley said. “Antagonism never solved anything. As good as we were before, we were going for the ‘C’ grade because we were only doing (the minimum) requirements.
“We found people want to do the right thing when they know what it is.”