The fresh produce industry in Canada is still waiting to see what the Safe Food for Canadians Act will mean, but, as in the U.S., some growers are moving ahead with changes and upgrades to improve the overall food safety of their operations.
Mor Gro Farms Inc., Leamington, Ontario, made such a change for the 2014 season. Tom Trojniak, who manages warehouse, production and marketing for the family-owned greenhouse operation, said Mor Gro dumped its tomato dump tank.
“It was a food safety issue,” Trojniak said. “The change was partly prompted by our desire to get Canada GAP certification and other safety certifications.”
By removing the dump tank from the tomato packing line Mor Gro eliminated the dangers of wash water cross-contaminating tomatoes with foodborne pathogens, as well as eliminating the cost of the water, sanitizers and testing, Trojniak said.
Retailers’ food safety requirements are also part of the reasoning behind the dump tank’s removal.
“If we want to ship to Loblaw, for example, we need (food safety) certifications,” Trojniak said.
Taking out the dump tank allows two Mor Gro employees to be reassigned to other jobs, he said. Those extra hands came just in time for planting tomato seedlings the last 10 days of January.
When that crop is ready to harvest in April, a new sticker system will be in place at Mor Gro. Trojniak said the new system will print Price Look-Up stickers on the go without having to stop the line to switch reels for different products.
The new sticker system and improvements on the tomato pack line are the latest in more than two years of projects to take the home of the Smarty brand to the next level of sustainability and profitability, Trojniak said.
“The solar panels we installed last year are generating enough power that we are selling it back to the grid,” he said.
“Our gasification burner is working great, also, and we plan to get a generator hooked up next year.”
Mor Gro Farms Inc. markets under the Smarty label.