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Food Safety at Every Step, Every Tomato

On any given day, and for any given tomato, Harllee Packing can quickly and efficiently tell its distributors exactly where that piece of fruit came from, who harvested it, and every food safety step it underwent.

That’s because Harllee is an industrywide leader in traceability, a practice now required of every grower or importer of produce.

Harllee has an advantage over many competitors because of its “cooperative” relationship with several growers. Harllee Food Safety Manager Lisa Chatley says that as a “co-op,” Harllee and its partner farms are all following one united system of traceability.

“We have direct access to all field tickets and payroll,” Chatley says, “so we can tell exactly where the tomatoes came from and who harvested them that day.”

By contrast, many other tomato packers work with individual farms that are each following their own separate systems of traceability. Sorting through several different systems can add days to the traceability process.

Speedy and efficient traceability is important all the time, but it can be essential when concerns about foodborne illnesses arise. Back in 2008, for example, it took more than a month for tomatoes to be cleared of blame for a nationwide salmonella outbreak that affected 1,300 people and was eventually proven to be caused by peppers and avocadoes from Mexico.

Chatley remembers conducting traces on 100 different orders to help demonstrate that tomatoes had not caused the historic outbreak.

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Food Safety

Whether it's product testing and traceability, employee hygiene, auditing or equipment testing, Harllee is a leader in ensuring food safety.

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Testimonials

"The quality of their product is very good, and they always keep me informed. I deal with several other companies, and Harllee far surpasses those companies in service and quality."

- Mike Bommarito of R.A.M. Produce Distributors, Detroit, Mich.

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