The United Fresh Produce Association recently release an updated version of the Food Safety Programs & Auditing Protocol for the fresh tomato supply chain, commonly known as ‘Tomato Metrics.’
These metrics initially were developed in 2009 in a bid to harmonize food safety audit standards for the tomato supply chain, United Fresh said. This effort led to the development of the Produce GAPs Harmonized Standard.
The tomato working group recommended a new structure for Tomato Metrics in which tomato operations will use the Harmonized Standard (or other similar GAP audit) as the base food safety protocol, with Tomato Metrics added as an industry-specific addendum. With the revision, Tomato Metrics are limited to areas that are unique to the tomato industry or not currently in the Harmonized Standards.
This update 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 association said.
“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,” said 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.”
The Tomato Guidelines are free to download at unitedfresh.org. To learn more about Tomato Metrics or the Harmonized Standard, call Griep at 202-303-3401.