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Greenhouse Food Safety Programme

23.jun.99, Denton Hoffman,, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers News Release

ONTARIO GREENHOUSE VEGETABLE GROWERS LAUNCH ON-FARM FOOD SAFETY PROGRAM
June 23, 1999
Denton Hoffman,
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
www.ontariogreenhouse.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LEAMINGTON, ON -- Keeping product quality and safety top priority, the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) are launching an On-Farm Food Safety Program led by food safety specialist Doug Powell, Ph.D. and a team of food safety advisors from the University of Guelph. While no food safety problem has ever been linked to Ontario greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers, which are inherently less susceptible to problems because of their soil-free and protected growing environment, OGVG are laying the groundwork toward eventual certification to further assure safety.
"Product quality and safety, as well as customer satisfaction, are always our top priorities. Though food safety is just one component of the overall perception of quality, we intend to make it an essential selling point," says Denton Hoffman, General Manager, OGVG. "The controlled climates of greenhouses are an advantage in that produce is not susceptible to external hazards of manure runoff, wildlife contact or spray drift. "
Rather than just distributing the On-Farm Food Safety manual, Powell and his team will be visiting all greenhouses and packing sheds in the next year to educate growers and packers on how to identify and control microbiological threats following Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. Amanda Whitfield, an associate of Powell's food safety group, will serve as on-farm food safety co-ordinator.
The Ontario Greenhouse guidelines are modelled after food safety programs of several major U.S. produce groups and are consistent with those published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Horticulture Council. They are also based on specific needs of the greenhouse industry, with baseline microbial testing conducted by Powell in Ontario greenhouses last year.
The program kicks off with grower and shipper visits to help implement the various strategies outlined in the plan. To ensure food safety, a crucial part of the program will be to help growers understand the guidelines and how they work. Potential areas of microbial hazards are water supply and distribution, equipment, storage and transport of products, sanitation practices in washrooms and pest control. In addition, training programs for packing-shed employees will be a necessary element for the success of the program.
The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) are the leading greenhouse vegetable producers in North America with more than 200 growers producing premium-quality tomatoes and long, seedless cucumbers in more than 800 acres of greenhouse. They serve markets across Canada and the United States.

Phase One of Ontario Greenhouse Food Safety Program Complete
27 October 2000
OGVG press release

LEAMINGTON, ON P The first phase of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) On-Farm Food Safety Program has been successfully completed. Led by food safety specialist Doug Powell, Ph.D, and a team of food safety advisors from the University of Guelph, the safety program, launched last June, educates operators on how to identify and control any microbiological threat following Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

"Our first priority is ensuring the safety of our product for the consumer," says Denton Hoffman, General Manager, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. "Consequently, there have been no food safety problems linked to Ontario greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. This program will help us to maintain safety and lead to our growers' eventual certification."

As part of Phase One, over the past year 217 greenhouse growers received an on-site visit to help them understand and implement the HACCP safety guidelines. Areas that posed a microbial hazard were identified, including water supply, equipment, storage and transport of products, sanitation and pest control. Baseline microbiological testing of produce samples and water was performed by the University. The few remaining growers will be visited as part of the second year of the program.

Phase Two of the OGVG's plan includes a second on-site visit to further support the growers in their food safety effort. Newsletters to update and provide helpful information to growers, trace back coding systems, water treatment methods and sanitation will be the focus in Phase Two of the On-Farm Food Safety Program.

The recent boil water advisory issued in Leamington and Essex County is a prime example of how the On-Farm Food Safety Program is effective. The steps and guidelines the greenhouse industry follows through the HACCP program helps control harmful organisms from contaminating greenhouse product, including those found in the water system.

The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers are the leading greenhouse vegetable producers in North America with more than 200 growers producing premium-quality tomatoes and long, seedless cucumbers in more than 900 acres of greenhouse. They serve markets across Canada and the United States.

For further information contact:

Denton Hoffman
General Manager
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
1-800-265-6926