Although food safety-related outbreaks continue to worry the US fresh produce industry, experts are optimistic that increased awareness all along the supply chain will not only mitigate some outbreaks, but also prevent others entirely.
Arlington-based FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Hilary Thesmar, the group’s chief food and product safety officer and senior VP for food safety, says that the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables sold at grocery retail has always been their key priority.
On the supply wide, the organization is working very closely with producers of commodities that have had food safety-related outbreaks. Leafy greens has been a major focus in recent years, but FMI has also worked with other associations, academics and suppliers on the safety of red onions and papayas, among others.
While there haven’t been any major breakthroughs on the prevention side, Thesmar has been pleased with the increased awareness industry-wide. More and more people all along the supply chain are aware that, as recent FDA reports have confirmed, contamination of fresh produce at the grower level comes to either water or proximity of animals.
“We’re still trying to get that message out to the retail industry to include food safety when you’re talking to your suppliers,” she told supermarketperimeter.com.
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