Florida grower-shippers keep up to date on food safety - The Packer

Florida grower-shippers keep up to date on food safety

11/03/2009 03:50:08 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Branch and its growers had been working internally on its food safety by undergoing audits prior to Harper-Larsen’s hiring.

However, the operation soon realized it needed a full-time person to take the efforts to the next level, said Brett Bergmann, Branch’s co-owner.

He said food safety is a topic that’s on everyone’s minds on a daily basis.

“We are committed to our safety and compliance program and to the safety of the food products that we grow, market and ship,” Bergmann said. “We want to stay on the forefront and leading edge in that area, and continue to comply with whatever comes our way so we can ensure a safe food supply for the consuming public.”

Daily focus

Dean Wiers, sales manager of Willard, Ohio-based Wiers Farm Inc., which has Florida production through Wiers-Turner Farms LLC, Palmetto, said food safety remains paramount in day-to-day operations.

“We continue to use every tool we can,” he said. “We are constantly improving traceability methods, and food safety remains our No. 1 focus. Food safety and the quality of produce are probably No. 1 on everyone’s list these days. Our consumers have to have confidence in what we grow. We take that very seriously.”

Pacific Collier Fresh Co., Immokalee, has achieved high scores in third-party audits and performs all the required food safety tests at the farm and packinghouse level, said Jim Monteith, sales manager.

Retailers continue to conduct mock recalls, he said. The ability to trace product back to the source via computers has made such traceback tests more common, Monteith said.

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