The New Jersey Department of Agriculture
(NJDA) has issued its first certificate for food safety
under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new third-party
audit program for packers, producers and retailers of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The USDA's Federal-State Audit Program was modeled on a program developed by
"This voluntary food safety program ensures that participating producers
are following good agricultural and handling practices, which provides important
assurance to their regional and national buyers, as well as consumers," said
New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus.
The certificate was presented to Gloucester County
Packing Co. in Woodbury, which packs, stores and
transports onions and potatoes for retail sales.
The Department's audit program certifies that participants
are voluntarily implementing plans to ensure good
agricultural and handling practices, and are adhering
with the Food and Drug Administration's guide to
minimizing microbial food safety hazards in fresh
fruits and vegetables.
Under a third-party audit, certified NJDA auditing
staff review all aspects of fresh produce production
operations. These include elements affecting crop
production, such as water source and well maintenance;
washing and packing procedures; field worker sanitation
and hygiene; field harvesting and transportation;
storage containers and pallets; warehouse pest control;
cooling, ice and refrigeration units; transportation
and loading of final product; and the ability to
trace back products to their source.
Audit results are valid for one year.
Packers, producers and retailers interested in participating
in the voluntary program should contact Larry Hardwick
at (856) 453-3870.