(Feb. 18) U.S. Foodservice will be the first company to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quality monitoring program.

Terry Bane, chief of the processed products branch of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s fruit and vegetable programs, said U.S. Foodservice approached the agency with a request to develop the program.

Bane said AMS graders will visit three U.S. Foodservice distribution centers one to three times a week to examine samples of frozen produce. Graders will check product to ensure that it meets buyers’ specifications or other predetermined guidelines.

He said the new program, which is available to other companies, is expected to be expanded to other U.S. Foodservice locations as well as fresh, canned and dehydrated operations.

No timeline was available, Bane said. A spokesman for Columbia, Md.-based U.S. Foodservice did not respond to an interview request before deadline.

“It benefits everyone in the food chain,” Bane said of the program. “It’s a good program to look at the quality of product. The applicant is notified immediately if there’s a problem, and it’s up to the discretion of the applicant how to deal with any quality infraction.”