Traceability And Food Safety: Are You Prepared? [Opinion]

Richard JonesI was in Oklahoma for a family reunion last month. It was wonderful to reconnect with extended family members and even meet some others for the first time.

My job as an editor for a vegetable publication is always a great conversation starter in situations like this, because everyone has questions and opinions about produce. It was no different with my family.

As we enjoyed some delicious melon at breakfast one morning, the discussion turned almost immediately to food safety, and more specifically, the much-publicized Jensen Farms situation from last year. (If you were hoping the fallout from that would have settled by now, well, think again.)

I described the extensive programs that you as growers have in place to make sure the vegetables you’re selling are free from contamination. But inevitably, they can point to a big news story that makes them wonder whether it’s safe to eat the tomato, pepper, or cantaloupe they just bought. My aunts, uncles, and cousins have food safety on their minds.

And I know it’s on yours, too, as you stare down the barrel of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). We’re hearing now that the first wave of FSMA final rules should be rolling out in the fall, with further announcements coming over the next 12 to 18 months. We don’t know yet exactly how traceability will play a role, but rest assured that anything you can do to enhance your record keeping will help you in the long run.

Be sure to check out our story, 10 Traceability Tools. Many of you already have excellent systems to ensure the safety of your crop. But some of you probably still have some work to do to make sure your business is prepared and protected. That’s just as important as ensuring consumers are protected when they enjoy your produce.

My family will appreciate it, and I’ll have even more to share about how safe that breakfast melon is when I see them again next summer.

On another note, you may have noticed the recent updates to our website, GrowingProduce.com. We’re constantly experimenting and upgrading our offerings to more effectively deliver the content you need for your business, in an easier-to-read-and-use format.

Over the last several months, we have refashioned the site with a faster, more efficient platform and most recently, improved its organization to make it simpler to access the information you’re looking for. From feature stories and the latest news to image galleries and webcasts, we’re working hard to make GrowingProduce.com a valuable resource for your business. Please take a look around and let me know what you think.

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