ORLANDO, Fla. — Representatives from the Florida Tomato Exchange and the California Tomato Farmers cooperative have concluded a summit sponsored by the United Fresh Produce Association by expressing their commitment to unify food safety practices for U.S. tomatoes. “A primary goal of the California Tomato Farmers is for standardized food safety criteria to be developed and implemented in all U.S. growing areas and eventually in Canada and Mexico as well,” Ed Beckman, president of the California Tomato Farmers cooperative, said in a statement. “A single food safety program based on sound science and endorsed by government health agencies is the fresh tomato industry’s ultimate goal. We are also urging the distribution side to utilize best management practices when handling our products.” The state of Florida will launch its own mandatory inspection program later this year, and California farmers have agreed to government inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two groups said they will launch a task force to ensure that all U.S. tomato producing regions are following similar guidelines, and to research best practices for growers, shippers, repackers, fresh cut processors, food service and retailers.
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