protecting our food supply

Maintaining Food Safety – Part 2

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Continuing our series on food safety in the state of California, we spoke with Jon Kimble, Operations Business Development Manager at Safe Food Alliance, and he explained the need for worker awareness when it comes to protecting our food supply.

“Too often, we see these recalls on foods where people are getting ill. Many times, it gets tracked back to an employee. Somebody’s got a virus, somebody’s got a bacteria, they’re sick,” Kimble said. “They come in contact with the food while they’re ill, and that translates back to getting out in the food supply and making people sick.”

“That’s what we’re trying to minimize. In a practical sense, in cases where we’ve observed people getting sick from things, we track that back, see what the source is, and try and share that information with everybody so that they can minimize that from happening in the future,” Kimble explained.

There are economic implications to consider as well.

“It is really paramount to prevent not only economic damage to your own farm and your own business, but also an entire industry,” Kimble said. “We see [that] one bad apple affects the whole industry.”

“We’ve even seen situations, such as a few years ago ,where there were some contaminated peppers, but they suspected tomatoes initially. It impacted an entire year’s harvest of tomatoes,” Kimble said. “We want to minimize the damage to the industry, and how people protect their businesses legally, by doing the right thing.”

Buyers are also setting a higher standard of quality, in light of the new rule.

“The regulation does set a minimum requirement, but buyers, customers, purchasers are setting a higher standard,” Kimble said.

“We’re seeing that trickle down effect as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), that even folks who aren’t necessarily required to do certain things in their operation are being asked by their customers to do above and beyond what the regulation requires, and even in advance of their compliance dates for the regulation.”

“We’ve seen it both on the processing side and on the growing side, that customers are starting to raise their expectations for growers,” he said.

This is Part 2 of a 3 Part Series.