The recent Romaine lettuce recall—two in the last year—has turned the leafy green industry upside down. Flashbacks of the 2006 spinach recall in California’s Salinas Valley haunt the area’s farmers, the same farmers who after the 2006 outbreak implemented stringent practices through the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement aimed at stopping the next outbreak.

But it happened again. Why?

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Training for on-farm fruit and vegetable operations in the Produce Safety Rule is proceeding. The FDA and state departments of agriculture are offering on-farm educational inspections prior to regulatory inspections in their “educate before we regulate” approach. With the emphasis placed on worker hygiene, soil amendments, wildlife & domestic animal intrusion and irrigation water testing; I wonder if we may be missing an important aspect in post-harvest handling. Sanitation of harvest and packing shed equipment is critical to ensure pathogens don’t become established in the equipment and serve as a source of contamination.

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Environmental monitoring plays an instrumental role in ensuring food safety at plant facilities. Product contamination is a leading cause of recalls and FSMA will soon require verification of preventive measures taken to keep food safe. Accordingly, companies should invest in monitoring programs to catch potential problems before products are released for consumer consumption. Continue Reading

The best HACCP, GMP, or sanitation training program can be rendered meaningless if your company suffers from high employee turnover. The proper orientation of employees should not be undervalued or overlooked.

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The first few weeks or months in a food plant environment with new responsibilities can be highly stressful and confusing. During this critical time, an effective orientation can mean the difference between a new employee becoming an asset or realizing a lost return on your investment. Continue Reading