IRVINE (March 2, 2010) - To strengthen the safety of the green onion supply chain, today, Western Growers, in partnership with the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association as well as other industry associations, academics, regulatory agencies and the green onion industry, released a new voluntary food safety guidance document for the production and harvest of green onions — the "Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production, Harvest, Post-Harvest, and Value-Added Operations of Green Onions."
"After several years of work, it is extremely satisfying to finally complete this project," said Sonia Salas, Western Growers Science & Technology manager. "As growers and handlers begin to apply these practices, the value of these voluntary guidelines will increase. Additionally, we will treat this as a living, breathing document - updating it as new science presents itself."
This document is based on work begun by the fresh produce industry in the summer of 2006, at the request of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, and is meant to augment green onion food safety efforts already underway in Mexico and Canada.
"The Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Green Onions represent a substantial body of work that will provide a much needed general framework which growers, packers, distributors, marketers, regulators, and consumers can use as the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of food safety controls used with the production of this fresh vegetable," said Dr. Robert Buchanan, director, Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland.
"This document presents the food safety best practices to be followed by green onion suppliers, and to be used as a purchasing requirement by customers. It establishes the level of performance, programs, and procedures that, when adopted, will significantly increase the level of food safety across the green onion supply chain”, added Dave Murphy, director of food safety and quality programs at Boskovich Farms, Inc. "Many of the most regarded experts in growing, processing, and selling of green onions have collaborated on this document. I encourage everyone in our industry to take advantage of the Guide in their operations."
The "Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production, Harvest, Post-Harvest, and Value-Added Operations of Green Onions" is available for any interested party on the Western Growers website at www.wga.com/foodsafety under the "Best Practices" section. This project was funded through the California Department of Food and Agriculture under the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
Western Growers is an 85-year-old agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship about half of the nation’s fresh produce.