Foodborne illness continues to present a public health challenge in the United States. Foodborne illness is associated with a range of foods, including fresh produce.
Produce is recognized as an important component of a healthy diet because it is a source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Produce can play an important role in weight management as well. Because most produce is grown in a natural environment, it is vulnerable to contamination with pathogens. Factors that may affect the occurrence of such contamination include agricultural water quality, the use of manure as fertilizer, the presence of animals in fields or packing areas, and the health and hygiene of workers handling the produce during production, packing, processing, transportation, distribution or preparation. The fact that produce is often consumed raw without any type of intervention that would reduce, control or eliminate pathogens prior to consumption contributes to its potential as a source of foodborne illness.
As a member of PRO*ACT, Seashore Fruit & Produce is required to adhere to strict policies pertaining to food safety, security and regulatory compliance requirements for suppliers.
- Annual inspection by an approved third party auditing firm is required.
- All suppliers involved in the growing, harvesting and packing of raw agricultural commodities must have documented and verified Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in place. The GAP program should meet or exceed the recommendations in the FDA “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for fresh Fruits and Vegetables.
- All suppliers must have a written recall program in place that is updated annually. It also must be tested annually through a mock recall exercise. The program must be designed to enable the supplier to trace forward products to the distributor level and show details of how product is identified, traced, received, stored and disposed of in the event of a recall. It must comply with the provisions of FDA’s regulation “Recall – Guidelines on Policy, Procedures and Industry Responsibilities”, 21 CFR 7 subpart C. All suppliers must be able to trace back products one step in the distribution chain. For example, a fresh-cut lettuce manufacturer must be able to trace the lettuce to the grower/supplier; a grower has to have a system in place to identify where the product came from (date of harvest, farm identification).
- Pest control: rodents, insects and birds must be excluded from post harvesting handling, packing or storage facilities. Pest control procedures must be conducted in a manner that will not contribute to the contamination of product. Control programs must be well managed and appropriately documented.
- All products considered “processed” must be produced under a functioning HAACP plan.
Seashore Fruit & Produce follows an operational philosophy based on the premise that long-term success of our business requires that all parties benefit from their association with our company.
The goal of our Produce Safety Action Plan is to minimize the incidence of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of fresh produce.