Produce Grower: For growers wanting to keep a clean facility, what are steps they can take to achieve that goal?
Eric Smith: SaniDate 5.0, a hard surface sanitizer, helps in a number of ways. Growers can kill human health pathogens and plant pathogens at the same time with ONE product and no residual chemistry. Time is money and labor is money and everyone is feeling these labor pains, so to have a product that is not residual and has a minimal REI and is also convenient is huge. It’s a food safety issue in a lot of places and this can definitely help.
PG: Is this a product growers should also be applying postharvest?
ES: SaniDate 5.0 is labeled for food contact, so it can be used in a dunk tank or a flume. Outside of the leafy greens segment, greenhouse tomatoes or other crops, a number of applications remove any spoilage organisms and/or human health pathogens. That helps the crop last longer on the shelf.
PG: As far an overall food safety strategy, how important is making sanitation part of that plan?
ES: It’s absolutely mission critical that, whether in house, or with a consultant, there’s a plan in print and in practice. Without sanitation and disinfection and food safety, operations could have a difficult time with marketability, poor shelf life for greens or tomatoes, they could incur unnecessary costs in production, or have issues with algae or water quality if we’re talking about hydroponics. Sanitation issues can ripple through any facility, so it’s all critical.
PG: What are some of the common mistakes you have seen growers make?
ES: With so many production methods available the variables have multiplied too; we believe each facility deserves its own specific plan. But growers should evaluate their growing practices to see where the contact points are, where the repetitive actions are with the crop, and see where the workers in the facility are interacting with the crop. Walk the crop, walk the facility. Developing a plan is going to be a huge benefit to growers in the long run. Put pen to paper and figure out what needs to be done. That’s the most important thing to do. Writing it down ensures there’s clear communication from team to team, and from person to person, you’re setting yourself up for success.