August 15, 2023

GreenLink®: The Digital, Secure and Confidential Online Platform for Food Safety Data

Data are components of a language. Like letters or words, they need to be organized in a specific structure to make sense. They need a context for us to appreciate the power of understanding that they bring. But like a language, the power resides in the ability to convey information to one another in a way that creates understanding and motivates action.

In a time when information is at a surplus, there’s often more data than format, and the data are jumbled together to resemble alphabet soup more than Steinbeck. As a solution to the many growers and farm managers who are standing with handfuls of data and asking, “Now what?” the Western Growers Science team has been working hard to rollout GreenLink® to help answer that question as it relates to food safety.

GreenLink® is a secure, anonymous online data sharing platform that allows growers to assess and adapt food safety practices to address anticipated risks. Data submitted by participants is aggregated, anonymized and integrated with public data (like weather, CAFO locations, wildfire areas, etc.). Visuals are produced via a dashboard that provides description analytics to participants. Future goals include producing predictive and even prescriptive analytics, including modeling to provide growers with individual risk assessment analytics related to plant and harvest schedules, pre-season and pre-harvest assessments, product testing and water testing.

Of the many ways to make it work for an operation, utilizing data for greater food safety insight has preemptive, proactive value. By utilizing GreenLink®, fresh produce operations can connect and transform datasets in a way that can help strengthen the industry and advance food safety. This will allow users to learn about their food safety performance and consider advanced data and analytics in their decision-making process. Once the collected raw data is added to GreenLink®, the information can exist within a clear context that can reveal patterns, empowering users to make more informed decisions that can lead to effective action. As of now, GreenLink® offers the following features:

  • Product testing and water testing out-of-tolerance overviews
  • Various geospatial attributes relative to growing/sampling locations
  • Pre-season and pre-harvest inspection statistics
  • Benchmarking for users to anonymously compare their food safety practices with aggregated data from similar growing operations to better assess performance

With these tools, grower operations can utilize their information in a way that can be translated to contribute to the industry narrative, a narrative that conveys the effort that the industry takes to commit to food safety. By tracking, monitoring and comparing metrics, growers will have a track record of their commitment while also being able to keep an eye on potential issues. A main goal—and a goal that is a primary driver of many Western Growers initiatives—is to assure regulators and their constituents that food safety oversight can be a beneficial partnership instead of enforcement. GreenLink® is an avenue to enrich that dialogue. With data collection from a wide range of participants, participants have a clear and collective message to share about the affects of food safety initiatives.

Participants have praised GreenLink’s ability to simplify data collation—aggregating various data types and sources into a single viewable form. Many have had to do this process manually themselves, if at all. While some participants may have been able to accomplish this on their own, they are only able to view their organization’s data, not industry-wide data and metrics.

One of the objectives and strengths of Western Growers Family of Companies is to unify and strengthen the specialty crop industry, and GreenLink® is another manifestation of that initiative, giving the platform an advantage that other data-sharing platforms don’t have. Those who are already contributing data in GreenLink® are adding to the conversations that are occurring to the grower-supportive narrative happening around food safety. A single operation is limited in scope to the data that they have, but GreenLink® collates the data to widen the scope for a broader perspective to make more impactful messaging.

The participants own and govern their data in a way that strengthens this outward communication while maintaining their individual contributions. Participants have the option to become a part of the Data Governance Committee—which assists platform development, including the platform’s interface and layout as well as long-term expected and desired outcomes; or the Stakeholder Committee, which includes stakeholders who may benefit and inform the aggregate and anonymized database. GreenLink® participants always have the opportunity to interact on an individual basis with either the Western Growers Science team or Creme Global, the organization that specializes in data science and scientific modeling that is working with Western Growers to make GreenLink® happen.

GreenLink® has streamlined integration with existing data management systems that provides useful insights and the ability to analyze and compare data securely and confidentially. As a Western Growers-backed platform, the core of the objective of GreenLink’s utility is to be driven by the specialty crop industry to work for the industry’s best interest, create a positive industry narrative and develop future data practices. This is one of GreenLink’s unique advantages.

The early adopters of the platform have the additional benefit of having an impactful say in how the platform develops and evolves over time. Those who have already participated have been key influencers in how GreenLink® has developed based on feedback and requests.

In early June 2023, the Western Growers Science team announced a partnership with Frank Yiannas. Yiannas is set to continue his advocacy for food safety after his time as the Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yiannas once said that modern times require modern approaches, and GreenLink® is a move toward that.

There is a growing number of participants who are contributing their data and their voice to GreenLink®. The more organizations that are unified in the objective to engage in action and communication around food safety, the more impact the initiative will have. It’s this initiative that will inspire larger-scale engagement across the industry to create a more influential presence in the space of food safety. As Frank Yiannas has said in the past, “When it comes to food safety, it’s not a competitive issue. We all win or lose together.”

For more information about participating in GreenLink®, reach out to the Western Growers Science team at or go to