International Sprout Growers Association Teams with IFSH, USDA and FDA to Launch Enhanced Sprout Safety Protocols
Pilot program will leverage the collaborative work of agencies, academia, retailers, suppliers and growers to improve safety processes and protocols.
Las Vegas, NV (October 21, 2011) – At the annual International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) convention, the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) Sprout Safety Task Force announced the launch of enhanced protocols for the safe growing, handling, distribution and sale of sprouts to consumers. The effort is the result of two years of work, combining the efforts of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), universities, sprout growers and suppliers to ensure the consistent safety of sprouts.
Under the guidance of the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), sprout growers, suppliers, and allied stakeholders formed the Sprout Safety Task Force, focusing on food safety guidance and critical research required for the safe production of sprouts. IFSH members on the task force include representatives from Jonathan Sprouts, Caudill Seed, Brassica Protection Products, International Specialty Supply, the ISGA, and IIT.
As part of the effort, a sub-committee was created that developed a Sprout Safety Audit Checklist to serve as a tool for sprout growers in reviewing their operations and for sprout-specific third party audits. The sub-committee submitted this work to an independent review panel that included representatives from universities, USDA, FDA, retail grocery, produce associations, and allied sprout industry services.
“We felt that a one-size-fits-all audit approach could not adequately address a number of critical aspects of safe sprout production, and so the sprout-specific audit was initiated to focus on the challenges that are unique to our industry,” noted Bob Sanderson, President of ISGA and Jonathan Sprouts. “The audit, which recently had a trial run with a professional auditor and a volunteer sprout producer, includes not only verification of good practices, but a more rigorous validation of the effectiveness of specific safety interventions. Scientists from IFSH held a training workshop on this audit at the Las Vegas ISGA Convention.”
“This collaborative effort is evidence that when the private sector works closely with academia and government agencies very positive results can be accomplished to improve food safety,” said Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D., IIT Vice President and IFSH Director. “IFSH’s Sprout Safety Task Force has developed a practical work product for industry that will make a positive impact on ensuring sprout safety.”
“We have begun to work with Global G.A.P. to investigate the creation of a global standardization for sprout production, which when managed by Global G.A.P., will be Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized. The IFSH Sprout Safety Audit Checklist will be brought to the European Sprout Focus Group meeting in Brussels in November to join in harmonizing a sprout grower ‘Standard of Best Practice’ all over the world,” said Barbara Sanderson, chair of the IFSH Sprout Safety Task Force Audit Sub-committee
The annual ISGA convention brings together growers from around the globe with suppliers, government and university representatives. Attendees meet and work to review, discuss and develop programs that improve safety, and highlight the great health benefits of eating sprouts. By sharing best practices and current research, all stakeholders are armed with the latest scientific information and recommended procedures to deliver the highest quality and safest products possible to market.
About the International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA)
The ISGA is an association of sprout growers, suppliers and educators. The goal of the ISGA is to promote information-sharing among its members in the areas of nutrition education, good growing practices, marketing, and recipe development for the sprouts industry. To learn more about the ISGA please visit www.isga-sprouts.org/whoweare.htm.
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