United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board Endorses Harmonized Food Safety Audits

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United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board Endorses Harmonized Food Safety Audits

The United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board has endorsed the importance of efforts to harmonize produce food safety audits to reduce cost and duplication of efforts while enhancing overall safety.

In a joint statement, United Fresh board chairman Reggie Griffin of The Kroger Co. and vice chairman Mitch Smith of McDonalds said, “Both retail and foodservice buyers share the same goals as produce suppliers in assuring that good agricultural and handling practices are followed in production and distribution. It’s important that partners throughout the supply chain work toward benchmarking and harmonization of any audits that we use to ensure the most effective food safety results with the least cost and duplication of efforts. Using multiple different audits all asking the same basic questions is not the most effective way to focus our energies in enhancing food safety.”

United Fresh’s Retail-Foodservice Board specifically recognized the efforts thus far of the association’s Food Safety and Technology Council working group on audit harmonization.

“The conference that this group is putting together in Las Vegas is an important opportunity for retailers and foodservice companies to really work with our suppliers on what is a complex issue but a critical one to solve for our industry,” said Griffin.

“The endorsement of audit benchmarking and harmonization by these retail and foodservice leaders is a critical step forward,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president/CEO. “There’s been a tremendous amount of work by the more than 75 members of the Food Safety and Technology Council and companies throughout the industry to get to this point where most industry leaders recognize the burden and cost of duplicative audits. Now, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and we have to continue working together across the supply chain to drive progress,” he said.

To continue fostering collective progress forward, Stenzel urged produce industry members throughout the supply chain participate in the new Global Conference on Produce Food Safety Standards, to be held April 24-25 immediately following the United Fresh 2009 Convention in Las Vegas.

“Working together all in the same room, we can begin to focus on common approaches to best assure food safety, rather than having individual interests drive needless duplication and costs throughout the supply chain,” Stenzel said.

For more information, visit www.unitedfresh.org.