WASHINGTON, DC — December 3, 2003 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) released today a retail-specific guide for fresh-cut produce, using a total management approach to incorporate food safety practices into daily store operations.

The Total Food Safety Management Guide: A Model Program for Raw, Sold, Ready to Eat Fresh-Cut Produce is “based both on science and on practical, real-world conditions that must be taken into account for any program of this kind to be effective,” said Jill Hollingsworth, DVM, FMI vice president of food safety programs.

The model was extensively field tested before it was finalized. “It’s not enough to create a food safety model in a laboratory or on paper,” she said. “The most important test is to ensure that it works in the store and provides management with active controls for making food safety an integral process throughout the store. That’s why we field-tested this model to ensure it really can make a difference at retail.”

The model was tested and independently validated by the internationally recognized Silliker Laboratories. Among other measures, Silliker food scientists visited 29 retail stores before, during and after a six-week pilot-test period. The stores were different in size and type — run by independent operators as well as chains — ensuring that the produce model will work for virtually all food retailers.

The guide is based on the principles of the hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) system, an internationally recognized, science-based approach to food safety controls. The produce guide was designed by a diverse team that included microbiologists and experts in fruit and vegetable science, along with industry food safety professionals and retail produce department managers.

The produce model is the second in a series of Total Food Safety Management Guides, following one released earlier this year on ground beef. In the coming months, FMI will publish food safety models for deli salads, deli meats and cooked poultry. “These foods were selected,” said Hollingsworth, “because they are among the most widely consumed and the most challenging for food safety management.”

All the guides include a risk assessment, the identification of control points, good retail practices and examples of standard operating procedures.

The fresh cut produce guide provides other food safety management tools, such as sample logs for recording storage and display temperatures, wash water interventions, good retail practices and model standard operating procedures.

Within the fresh cut produce model is information retailers can share with their customers, including facts about the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, recommended storage temperatures and information about food quality and safe handling of fresh-cut produce.

The appendices include a consumer guide that retailers can use to create brochures for their customers based on the award-winning Fight BAC!TM public food safety education campaign.

To purchase the Total Food Safety Management Guides for ground beef or fresh cut produce ($50 for FMI members, $85 for associate members and $100 for nonmembers) or to obtain more information, please contact FMI Publications and Video Sales (202-220-0723) or visit the FMI Web site (http://www.fmi.org/pub/).