Avocados, food safety and
compliance go hand-in-hand-in-hand.
"I just think the
attention to the fact that it is an imperative for the growing and packing
sides of the business," said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing
for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine. "There's no reason not
to be fully involved."
Tracking fruit from shelf
to lot is a focal point for food safety concerns, said Patrick Lucy,
salesman for Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co.
"Traceback is a big
issue, with the box, the pallet, the date it was grown," he said.
It's a key component in
the program elsewhere.
"One of our key
initiatives is to become compliant with upcoming traceability
regulations," said Bruce Dowhan, general manager of Escondido,
Calif.-based Giumarra Agricom International LLC. "Our California
avocado program is currently utilizing the GTIN program, which standardizes
the traceability of produce commodities."
The relative low-risk
nature of avocados gives the industry a helpful boost in quality assurance,
said Walter Ram, food safety director for Los Angeles-based Giumarra Cos.
"There's not really
a history of safety problems or outbreaks," Ram said. "It's a dry
crop. There's no wash water. The chance of contamination is really
But Giumarra, like other
shippers, has its own GAP program in place, he said.
important to cover every step," he said.
Imported product comes with
the same standards, said Maggie Bezart, marketing director of the
Washington, D.C.-based Chilean Avocado Importers Association.
"The Chileans rank
the highest in their food safety standards," she said. "They have
a very strong organic program that's coming in this year."
Calif.-based McDaniel Fruit Co., food safety procedures may be the most
important program in place, said Rankin McDaniel, the company's owner.
biggie," he said. "We are constantly running our food safety
parameters, the food safety programs, having the third-party audits
conducted, not only in California but in our operations in Mexico and
Covering all food safety
aspects is no luxury in this business, McDaniel said.
necessary for a company to have all of the food safety requirements covered
and looking to improve on those at all times," he said.
"Customers are already comfortable with where our company is. We've
been out in front of that from the very beginning."
Miami-based New Limeco
LLC achieved certification from Primus Labs, as well as Hazard Analysis
Critical Control Point, said Eddie Caram, general manager.
"It's all about
making sure consumers take home a product that has been handled properly
and that eats well," Caram said. "It's important that somebody
who picks up a Florida avocado is getting the highest quality. We want the
consumer to come back for more."
It's also important to
assure retail customers that they're buying the safest product available,
"I'm trying to target
chain-store buyers and making sure that we are complying with everything
the chain store needs for food safety," he said.
Fort Worth, Texas-based
Fresherized Foods, which focuses on shipping guacamole produced under
high-pressure processing, touts the safety of its own product, most notably
postpasteurization treatment," Jay Alley, vice president of sales,
said of the high-pressure process. "It's a process where things are
pasteurized, using 87,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. The vessel is
sealed and pressurized at six times the deepest part of the ocean. It kills
all the microorganisms."
The process provides a
dose of reassurance to customers, Alley noted.
"With recent scares
in the produce department, we're fortunate we can offer a couple of great,
safe products," he said. "And the retailers appreciate it,
because they know they don't have to deal with recalls."
Mission Produce Inc. has its own GAP program, and recently hired Keith
Barnard to coordinate it, said Ron Araiza, the company's sales director.
"Our food safety
program, with this GAP certification program, we're always looking forward
and that will continue to be our priority," Araiza said. "It's a
certification process our growers go through. There's a variety of items
the growers have to go through to get that certification."
It's a way for Mission to
be proactive on food safety, Araiza noted.
"It had not been
done on the California avocado grower side, and we're just being proactive
and getting our growers certified, so our customers can be assured that our
growers are doing what they can to stay ahead of food safety on their
product," he said.