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The United Fresh Produce Association has released updated food safety audit standards for the fresh tomato supply chain.

Officially known as the Food Safety Programs & Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, and informally as the “Tomato Metrics,” they were first developed in 2009 with the goal of harmonizing food safety audit standards for fresh tomatoes.

United Fresh’s Tomato Working Group recommended a new structure for the metrics. Tomato operations will use the Harmonized Standard or similar good agricultural practices audit, as the a base food safety protocol, and use the Tomato Metrics as an industry-specific add-on, according to a news release.

The Tomato Metrics are limited to areas that unique to the tomato industry, or not necessarily unique, but not in the Harmonized Standards, according to the release.

The update corresponds with September’s publication of the third edition of the Tomato Guidelines. The combined resources provide information and auditing protocols to minimize microbial hazards with fresh and fresh-cut tomatoes.

“Over the past decade, United Fresh has strived to encourage broad industry participation in the development process of both the Tomato Metrics and the Harmonized Standard, as is demonstrated by the wide adoption of the Tomato Metrics among tomato handling operations,” Emily Griep, United Fresh’s manager of food safety, said in the release. “We hope that the new format of these metrics will encourage continued use of these standards, achieving our ultimate goal of food safety standard harmonization, and reduced audit fatigue among produce growing and handling operations.” 

The guidelines can be downloaded from the United Fresh website.

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