Global distribution helps food safety, marketers say

09/07/2012 03:10:00 PM
Jim Offner

In the realm of food safety, avocados are considered a low-risk item, but Chile has an extra safety edge because of its global distribution, marketing agents say.

Multiple layers of auditing creates a web of safety checks as the fruit makes its way to the marketplace, said Maggie Bezart, marketing director of the Washington, D.C.-based Chilean Avocado Importers Association.

“Chile has one of the highest standards,” she said.

Chilean product is certified to meet needs of customers all over the world, Bezart said.

There also are some natural aids to the safety of Chilean product, she said.

“They have natural borders that no other country has. They have the hottest desert to the morth, the coldest to the south, the Andes to the east and the Pacific to the west,” Bezart said.

Global experience is an important aspect to Chilean product, said Adolfo Ochagavia, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee, Santiago.

“Chile has been exporting to Europe for a lot of years and because of their requirements there, the Chilean avocado industry has implemented, for example, (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) in the packing houses, EurepGAP in groves and other certifications related with the big worldwide retailers for many years,” he said.

He said the industry has “a culture and history” of certifications.

“We are ready to face new requirements that may arise in the future,” Ochagavia said.

The integrity of Chile’s avocados is long-established, said Dana Thomas, president of Bloomington, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.

“They have state-of-the-art sheds, and I think they have an excellent record,” he said.

The challenge is simply to maintain that record.

“It’s just a matter of continuing to do what they have been doing for so many years,” he said.

It helps that the product is considered low-risk for safety issues, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.

“That’s just really fortunate, and as long as we keep doing what we’re doing, there’s no reason to think it won’t continue,” he said.

Even with that record, the industry continues to add more layers to its safety protocols, Wedin said.

“We’ve really upgraded our packinghouses and are working hard with our growers to make sure they’re practicing good agricultural practices more and more every day, so we feel confident about the safety of avocados, whether they come from Chile, Mexico or California,” he said.



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