“They want to know that there’s not only an internal audit but also a third-party, objective external audit being conducted,” he said.
The dollar cost of an audit is not excessive, he said, “but the input of our time was considerable.”
“This is not a pro forma, just-for-show kind of audit,” he said. “This is an audit that’s done in great detail with great care.”
“We put in a significant number of hours with top management as well as all of the relevant supervisors.”
Although many shippers are committed to the Produce Traceability Initiative, many are yet to implement it, Phelps said.
“Most are waiting for their customer base to get on board, but in the meantime they feel it doesn’t make sense to apply barcodes now, when customers do not yet have the capability of scanning them,” she said.
At Basciani Mushroom Farms, Recchiuti said the company has invested heavily in the PTI.
“We are now compliant with the Produce Traceability Initiative,” he said. “Our products are all bar-coded with GTIN numbers.”
He termed the project a huge expense.
Dole Mushrooms long ago started labeling its outbound items, Schroeder said.
The company chose to label its product at item level rather than case level.
“We think that gets the traceability the whole way into the consumer’s refrigerator,” he said.
Mushroom grower-shippers feel confident about their food safety procedures, but “There’s no such thing as absolute risk-free,” Schroeder said. “We’re all aware of that. It just keeps us diligent.”