Tomato Industry Sets Sights On Florida

Representatives of the fresh tomato supply chain will convene at the headquarters of the Florida Tomato Exchange in Maitland this February to review how well the Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, more commonly referred to as the Tomato Metrics, have worked over the past year in providing guidance on effective food safety systems for tomato production and handling, and as an audit tool to demonstrate the effectiveness of those systems. Slated for Feb. 1-2, the meetings are open to all stakeholders interested in safe production and handling practices for fresh tomatoes.

During the meetings, the group also will also hear observations from auditors and customers, opportunities to improve and enhance the standards, and briefings from FDA officials.

The Tomato Metrics were originally developed by the industry in a series of meetings in 2008 in an attempt to create a single audit checklist for fresh tomato production and handling anywhere in the U.S. or Mexico. Those meetings included dozens of the tomato industry’s major growers, handlers and foodservice and retail customers, as well as federal and state officials, third party auditors and academic researchers. The Tomato Metrics were ultimately released as four standards, with corresponding audit checklists, covering open field production, harvest and field packing; greenhouse; packinghouse; and repacking and distribution. The standards were last reviewed by the industry in 2010 and revised documents were released in 2011. Spanish translations were developed by La Confederación de Asociaciones Agrícolas del Estado de Sinaloa (CAADES). United Fresh Produce Association serves as the secretariat for the Tomato Metrics and all of the standards and checklists are available on the United Fresh website at www.unitedfresh.org/tomatometrics.

“The food safety standards of the Florida State Regulatory program were based on the Tomato Metrics process and the State continues to work with the Tomato Metrics to maintain a harmonized audit program for the tomato industry in Florida,” added Reggie Brown, executive director of the Florida Tomato Exchange.

Source: United Fresh Produce Association

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