United Fresh Produce Association has released the updated version of the Food Safety Programs & Auditing Protocol for the fresh tomato supply chain. The metrics were initially developed in 2009, aiming to harmonize food safety audit standards for the fruit. It was this original effort that led to the development of the aptly named Produce GAPs Harmonized Standard.
The Tomato Working Group recommended a new structure for the Tomato Metrics that allows tomato operations to use the Harmonized Standard as the base food safety protocol, with the Tomato Metrics added as an industry-specific addendum. The revision allows the Tomato Metrics to be limited to areas that are unique to the tomato industry.
“Over the past decade, United Fresh has strived to encourage broad industry participation in the development process of both the Tomato Metrics and the Harmonized Standard, as is demonstrated by the wide adoption of the Tomato Metrics among tomato handling operations,” says Dr. Emily Griep, United Fresh’s Manager of Food Safety. “We hope that the new format of these metrics will encourage continued use of these standards, achieving our ultimate goal of food safety standard harmonization, and reduced audit fatigue among produce growing and handling operations.”
This update of the Tomato Metrics corresponds with the September 2018 publication of the Tomato Guidelines, 3rd ed. Together, these resources provide in-depth information and auditing protocols for the recommended food safety practices intended to minimize the microbiological hazards associated with fresh and fresh-cut tomato products.
The Tomato Guidelines can be downloaded for free by visiting www.unitedfresh.org.