Food Safety: Will Our Journey Ever End?


As harvest of the record 2011 crop is in full swing, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the tremendous accomplishments that we have made in the area of food safety over the past 10 years. Through our extensive research efforts, we have established an incredible wealth of knowledge and have effectively used this information to develop proven, fundamentally sound programs to ensure California Almonds can be consumed safely by our customers around the world. The industry pasteurization program and Voluntary Aflatoxin Sampling Plan (VASP) are tremendous examples of what can be achieved through our collective efforts.

However, with all of our monumental achievements, there is still much work to be done. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will begin to take form in 2012 and will have a far-reaching impact greater than any previous food safety regulation in our past. Also, it has become very clear that the final processor is not solely responsible for food safety. Every link in the supply chain matters and, ultimately, has accountability for fulfilling its role to supply safe products.

Supply chain management is one key element of FSMA. Do you have a documentation program in place to address this requirement? Are your suppliers and transporters taking every measure feasible to ensure the safety of the products that are delivered to you? This is one example in which the Almond Board of California (ABC) can work to provide guidance through carefully researched, science-based recommendations.

As we move into the next era of food safety, I am confident that through the ABC we have the collective resources and knowledge to continue to be the category leader. If we are asking the question, “Are all of our food safety responsibilities finished?”, we are neglecting to recognize the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The path to food safety is most definitely a journey, and it is our unwavering pursuit of providing the healthiest and safest product to the world that will continue to be a core element of our ongoing success.

Sincerely,
Brian Dunning, Chair
Food Quality and Safety Committee
Almond Board of California

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