Food safety is quite the hot topic these days, and for good reason. Consumer demand for healthy, fresh foods of the highest quality is increasing significantly, so farmers around the world are doing everything they can to ensure they’re providing just that. From the farm to your local market, and then eventually to your table, more people than ever are involved in making sure the food you take home is not only delicious, but safe, healthy, and free of contaminating properties.
So, why is food safety more of a concern now than in the past? Well, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 50 years ago, there were only five or so known organisms that could cause foodborne illnesses. Now, there are at least 25. Over time, the environment and our knowledge of such things have changed, which in turn has led us to have more concern for, and be more careful about, the food we produce and consume. Thus, many farmers have been avoiding the use of chemicals in their growing processes, and many are even taking a hands-on approach to how their food is packaged and transported.
Peri & Sons Farms, a family farm that specializes in growing premium onions, really takes the quality and safety of their food seriously. They make sure that every single onion is grown, packaged and shipped in a responsible and traceable way, ensuring that when those onions get to wherever they’re going, they are of the same quality as they were when they left the farm.
How do they do this? According to Sara Brinkley, Director of Food Safety & Organic Certification at Peri & Sons, they conduct internal audits on a daily basis – both in the fields and in their facilities.
“Auditable records are maintained to ensure proper protocols are followed,” said Brinkley. “Additionally, we are audited by third-party certifying bodies several times a year. During these inspections, the most current regulations and standards are used as the benchmark against our practices.”
While farmers are doing everything they can to ensure they produce safe and high-quality food, we as consumers need to make sure we’re doing our part, as well. Luckily, there are a number of things we can do to ensure our food’s quality is maintained once it leaves the market. Paying attention to “sell by,” “use by” and other expiration dates, as well as keeping kitchen surfaces and utensils sanitized, storing foods appropriately, and making sure we wash our hands constantly and don’t cross-contaminate are super important food safety rules to remember. According to Brinkley, washing produce before consumption is vital, as well.
“Although most produce in the marketplace is regulated, certified and microbial free, it is incredibly important to wash your produce once you get it home or before consuming,” said Brinkley. “In many instances, upon leaving the farm, produce may travel down a long supply chain where it’s handled numerous times.”
This could not be truer, and we could not agree more. Absolutely wash your produce, folks!
As consumers continue to desire more readily available information about the food we’re putting into our bodies, the topic of food safety likely won’t be flaming out any time soon. After all, food safety is about making sure that our food remains clean and maintains all the nutrients we need to keep a healthy lifestyle, so it (in our opinion) should absolutely stay on the hot topic list!
Farms are doing everything they can to make sure they’re providing our shops and markets with high-quality produce, and we sincerely thank them for that. If we as consumers can hold up our end of the bargain, we’re sure to lead clean and healthy, food safe lives!
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See you on the farm!