Tom Nunes Jr.
Vice President Of Nunes Co., the marketing arm of Nunes Vegetables, Inc.
There are a number of reasons why I favor a national leafy greens marketing agreement. The audits that reduce the microbial food safety hazards are uniform with other signatory grower/shippers in each production district, so there is a level playing field. Before the leafy greens agreements [in California and Arizona] came about, every grower/shipper had their own food safety program, and the programs were all over the board. This is a uniform approach to food safety. Because of my experience with the California and Arizona agreements, we’ve seen how the agreement works first hand. There is a comfort level that I have with these programs.
Education will be a big part of the agreement. In my opinion, to have a successful food safety program, it has to be systemic and part of the culture of your company. [The LGMA] has given us the tools to do so, and now it needs to be done across the country that way.
The other thing is the audits provide our buyers with a science-based food safety program that brings consistency to testing and food safety requirements as opposed to everyone having their own program.
I think the end result will be a level playing field. The agreement will be a basic plan that will impact all areas of the country in pretty much the same way. The other thing is that the California and Arizona programs educated the handlers on the importance of food safety right down to the smallest grower. In addition, these food safety audits enhance the food quality of our vegetables with consistent, stringent, and food-based requirements that will increase consumer confidence in leafy greens.