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Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain

The Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain
, or "Tomato Food Safety Protocol", was initiated in October 2008 in an effort to harmonize food safety audit standards for the fresh tomato supply chain. To prevent the Tomato Food Safety Protocol from becoming just another standard, in addition to rather than replacing others, a critical mass of fresh tomato "buyers" (e.g., processors, foodservice and retail) were asked to participate and, if successful, be prepared to accept audits of their suppliers using this standard. In this way, the goal was ultimately to replace the multitude of similar but different audit standards with this one. The Tomato Food Safety Protocol was developed during a series of open meetings. Invitations were extended to all identified stakeholders from industry, government and academia, Mexico and Canada - and additional participants welcomed as they were identified. In an effort to assure transparency, no one who asked to participate was excluded.

The Tomato Food Safety Protocol began with the July 2008 Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, 2nd edition, as a basis, endeavoring to establish "requirements" that were as specific as possible, but keeping in consideration different needs based on region, sub-commodity (e.g., round vs. Roma vs. grape or cherry tomatoes), operation size and equivalent growing or handling practices. Every effort was made to base these requirements on current science, but the participants accepted that these requirements would likely change as future research provides better information.

In late 2010, the tomato industry reconvened to review the performance of the Tomato Food Safety Protocol, and concluded that the effort was achieving its goal of harmonizing food safety audits for the operations covered under the Tomato Food Safety Protocol documents. During the meeting, the industry representatives considered recommendations for changes to several of the documents, and accepted several of the recommendations. Those documents were formally amended in April 2011 and all of the documents were re-issued as 2011 versions. Changes are described in the Forward of each document, and items in the documents that were revised are printed in red.

Tomato Guidelines July 2008

English Language Version

Spanish Language Version

Auditor Orientation Workshop, March 30 - April 1, 2010
United Fresh Produce Association
1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202 303 3400
Fax: 202 303 3433
united@unitedfresh.org