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United Fresh to host food safety meet-up for assessing suppliers

United Fresh to host food safety meet-up for assessing suppliers

© United Fresh Produce Association


The United Fresh Produce Association will hold a virtual webinar to discuss what factors should be considered when assessing a supplier’s food safety risk. The event will take place on Friday March 19 (2pm – 3pm US/Eastern). Discussion will include whether a third-party audit is enough, how to rank the risk of certain products and suppliers, how to manage this when time, financial, or other types of resources are limited.

The webinar is an opportunity for the produce food safety community to meet for informal networking to discuss these challenges and identify the types of tools and resources that would help assess risk.

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Food safety is key right now

Photo: DNV-GL

Consumers’ number-one priority right now is to ensure their food is safe to eat. This is the perhaps unsurprising finding of certification body DNV GL’s ViewPoint survey, which interviewed 4,500 consumers from across the globe about their food purchasing habits. The study found that food safety (55%) and health issues (53%) are what most concern consumers right now, rather than more global issues such as the environment (38%) and social aspects (35%) relating to food purchases.

Human rights (13%) and animal welfare (16%) appear to be taking a back seat while the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic.

Joy Franks-Laing, global food and beverage manager at DNV GL Business Assurance, said, “Food safety is still top of the agenda for consumers. However, the survey results seem to indicate that while food and beverage manufacturers and retailers may have invested considerably in protecting consumers, they are not 100 per cent convinced that all products are safe to consume.” The report also highlighted a major trust gap, with unbranded packaged food (69%) not commanding the same degree of trust as branded goods (85%). Just 19% of respondents reported using QR codes on packaging regularly. However, this proportion would rise to 65% if it was perceived to offer insights into a product’s origin and verification of food safety standards being met. And 69% consumers are willing to pay more if product information is verified or if the product or manufacturer is certified to a food safety standard.

The survey was conducted in March 2020 using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing) methodology, and it involved 4,500 consumers across 15 countries in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

Photo: DNV-GL

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DiMuto Joins International Pineapple Organization (IPO) as Trade Technology Partner

DiMuto Joins International Pineapple Organization (IPO) as Trade Technology Partner
DiMuto 4T Suite Solution /// Source: Press Release


DiMuto, a tech-based trade solutions platform, is now the official Trade Technology Partner for International Pineapple Organization, a global trade organization. The new partnership will see DiMuto providing support to IPO members to digitalize their produce and supply chains while strengthening the IPO’s presence in Southeast Asia.


Singapore, 15 April 2020 – DiMuto, a trade tech solutions platform that provides end-to-end supply chain visibility for global agri-food businesses, has joined the International Pineapple Organization (IPO) as an official Trade Technology Partner. The new collaboration will see DiMuto providing support to the global pineapple association not only through its trade technology solutions, but also for R&D and marketing efforts.

The IPO is a Global Trade Organization of pineapple growers from pineapple growing regions around the world, maximize efficiency and profit for the pineapple industry through identifying common needs in Buying, Marketing, Cost Savings, and Consulting. With active presence in Latin America as well as the US, the cooperative’s mission is to identify common needs among its members and leverage the group to maximize efficiencies and economies of scale.

According to market research by Tridge, 28.3 million metric tonnes of pineapples were produced in 2018, and the export of fresh pineapples was valued at US$2.1 billion, increasing by 11% from 2014 to 2018. The top pineapple exporting markets are tropical countries such as Costa Rica, Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. A 2018 FreshPlaza reports that global consumption of pineapples continues to grow with the largest growth markets in Asia such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines.

Under the partnership with IPO, DiMuto will be working with members to support the digitalization of their pineapple supply chains, as well as help strengthen the presence of IPO in the Southeast Asia region, in particular pineapple exporting markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines.

Using the DiMuto 4T Suite Solution, a 4-part trade technology solution combining blockchain, AI and IoT, DiMuto digitalizes the agri-food supply chain for data visibility and trade transparency, aiming to solve the industry’s various challenges such as food waste, food safety and food sustainability.

The DiMuto 4T Suite Solution creates traceability for every single fruit as they move through the supply chain by capturing important data at key supply chain stages. Individual products and cartons are tagged with DiMuto QR codes to assign each one a digital identity. These products and cartons are then digitalized through DiMuto’s proprietary Digital Asset Creation devices (DACky). Buyers can then use the DiMuto Receiver App to acknowledge the receipt of goods and provide feedback, all recorded on the DiMuto Platform to truly close the supply chain loop on one single platform. With the visibility provided by data captured as the product moves through the supply chain, DiMuto helps to reduce disputes over quality and creating trust amongst trade parties.

“IPO is always on the lookout for technology and solutions that would benefit our pineapple growers. I have every confidence that DiMuto’s technology will help create supply chain visibility for our members from around the world and help them grow their international presence,” said William Cavan, Executive Director of IPO.

“We are thrilled to have the support of International Pineapple Organization as we strengthen our presence in the produce industry. With our technology, IPO growers will be able to show buyers the high quality of their pineapples for every single carton before it is shipped. This creates trust and reduces uncertainty amidst the disruptions brought on by COVID-19,” said Gary Loh, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DiMuto.

This partnership comes hot on the heels of DiMuto’s latest investment from Latin Leap, a Venture Capital Studio focusing on opening up opportunities in Latin America for outheast Asian tech-scale ups. To date, DiMuto has tagged over 30 million fruits and tracked and traced over US$100million worth of agrifood trades. With presence in 7 countries including US, China, Indonesia, Australia and Mexico, the partnership with IPO will strengthen DiMuto’s international footprint in the global fresh produce industry.

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Safety accreditation for Vietnamese vegetables 

Safety accreditation for Vietnamese vegetables 

Vietnam’s farmers now have an accreditation programme (VietGAP) to guarantee the safety of their produce and help them enter the lucrative markets of Hanoi and abroad. The north-western areas of Moc Chau and Van Ho in the Son La province are highly dependent on agriculture. There has been a rise in demand among Hanoi’s urban population for the products of the north-western mountains as they are viewed as “authentic”, safe and high-quality with taste and nutrition.

The VietGAP programme is aimed at helping the farmers of Moc Chau and Van Ho supply temperate vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuces and cabbages to Hanoi. VietGAP provides guidelines on how to grow crops and manage them post-harvest to ensure food safety and improve product quality and traceability while supporting the health of producers, consumers and the environment.

Farmers participating in the project have doubled their income per hectare by supplying VietGAP-certified vegetables to markets in Hanoi compared with supplying vegetables through traditional channels. In 2018, 160 project farmers in 10 villages in Moc Chau and Van Ho supplied 1,130 tons of VietGAP-certified safe vegetables to supermarkets and vegetable stores in Hanoi. Big C Supermarkets, Bac Tom and Mega Market (formerly Metro) market certified safe vegetables from Moc Chau and Van Ho. The project is now trying to engage new retail markets to increase demand for VietGAP-certified safe vegetables. 

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France bans imports of cherries produced with dimethoate

France bans imports of cherries produced with dimethoate

France has introduced an emergency measure to ban imports of cherries from other Member States or from third countries where phytopharmaceutical products containing the active substance dimethoate is used. France adopted similar measures in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Reports by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirm the seriousness of French concerns regarding this substance, particularly in relation to problems with technical specifications, possible mutagenic effects, suspected endocrine-disrupting effects on the thyroid, the significant risk posed to mammals, bees and non-target arthropods, and the numerous risk assessment aspects that are yet to be finalised. The EFSA’s conclusions do not make it possible to identify a safe form of usage, and confirm that the consumption of fresh cherries from cherry trees treated with dimethoate is likely to pose a serious risk to human health.

In light of the foregoing, the French authorities asked the European Commission to take emergency measures to ban the use of dimethoate for cherry trees, and to suspend the placing on the European market of fresh cherries from cherry trees treated with dimethoate. However, as the European Commission has not taken such measures, France has decided to introduce the notified national emergency measure.


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Interview of the Month: the US Food Marketing Institute’s Rick Stein

“The ability to trace product back to its source is a critical part of the new produce supply chain,” says the US Food Marketing Institute’s Rick Stein.

The voice of food retail in the United States is the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Here the trade association’s vice president for fresh foods, Rick Stein, pinpoints what’s happening in his country on major issues for the sector. Stein was previously vice president of retail merchandising and marketing execution for Safeway, where he led marketing activities for the company’s eastern division spanning 180 locations and 20,000 employees.

What are the main challenges for fresh produce distribution in the US?

When it comes to providing fresh foods in retail, food safety is the utmost priority for the US retail food industry. The industry is doing a good job keeping food safe. According to the 2016 US Grocery Shopper Trends report, 9 in 10 shoppers have confidence in the safety of food at the grocery store.

As for fruit and vegetable distribution in the US, the produce supply chain is unique because products have a short shelf life, require fast distribution and temperature control is essential. We’re also often dealing with fresh foods being transported long distances. More fresh food providers in the US are relying on improved data quality to help address these elements of the produce supply chain. By optimising quality data, producers are better able to share data with retailers so they can provide a more transparent picture to shoppers about the path their produce took from farm to store. This ability to trace product back to its source is a critical part of the new produce supply chain and many US retailers and packers/shipper or implementing traceability initiatives.

In addition, shopper demand for local fruit and vegetables is changing the produce supply chain. Finding local sources, ensuring those sources have safe food, and getting product to shelf quickly is an emerging trend that is resulting in many new supply chains within the US produce business.

What are the latest improvements in food safety and sustainability?

Right now, food retailers and manufactures in the US are working to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping regulation of the US food safety system in 70 years. FSMA fundamentally changes the way food is regulated in the US and abroad and affects the entire supply chain from farm-to-fork. FSMA focuses more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting to problems after they occur. FMI has worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) throughout the FSMA implementation process and continues to offer our members resources, training and implementation guidance.

FMI is also working on the issue of food waste. Every year, about 40 million tons of food waste is sent to landfills in the US. FMI has joined with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to form the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA). This group has three major business goals: 1.) Reduce food lost within our operations so it never becomes food waste in the first place; 2.) Recover safe and nutritious food that might have been wasted by sending it to our partnering food banks; and 3.) Recycle unavoidable food waste by diverting away from landfill and moving it to productive use, including animal feed, compost or food to energy.

What is being done to promote fruit and vegetable consumption?

According to FMI’s Shopping for Health 2016 report, two-in-three US shoppers agree that food choices affect their health, but half say they struggle to find the motivation to eat healthfully. At the same time, FMI’s Power of Produce 2016 report finds shoppers are choosing produce as part of a healthier lifestyle and eating habit.

Grocery stores are uniquely positioned to be key partners in health and wellness for the communities they serve, including helping to increase consumption of fresh foods. Food retailers have the opportunity to help their customers find and distinguish dietary choices, offer weight management solutions and share convenient meal ideas that help feed families. Some of the actions retailers take to incentivise more fruit and vegetable consumption start with the location of produce near the entry of the store. Also, the location of produce on the front page of their advertising circulars is another way supermarkets highlight their produce.

Many US food retailers are transitioning their stores into health destinations and that includes offering more resources for shoppers to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption. According to the 2014 FMI report on Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness, 95% of US grocery stores surveyed employ dietitians at the corporate, regional and store levels. In addition to offering nutrition counseling, grocery stores are helping shoppers develop culinary skills. More than half of the food retailers in this survey employ chefs at the corporate level and 74% of respondents have offered cooking classes to customers.

In the US, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans offer an opportunity for food retailers and manufactures to help Americans eat a healthier diet. Many retailers and manufactures help support this information by making it available to customers on packages, in store, online and through their nutrition counseling services.

How are online sales, home deliveries and the hard discounters affecting in store sales?

In the US, fresh produce is what brings shoppers to the grocery store. According to FMI’s Power of Produce 2016 report, 63% of US shoppers prefer the supermarket for their produce purchases. Consumers cite concerns over product freshness and quality, but also want control over selecting the produce they purchase. However, when the online shopping platform is supported by their primary brick-and-mortar grocery store, shopper interest increases.

When it comes to overall grocery shopping trends, the 2016 US Grocery Shopper Trends report finds 15% of shoppers occasionally purchase food or groceries online through a service or meal subscription. At the same time, 16% of US shoppers report purchasing fresh produce online in the past 12 months. This represents an opportunity for US food retailers to further enhance their online produce offerings, while also creating unique in-store fresh food purchasing experiences for shoppers.

Photos provided by the Food Marketing Institute

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Analytica Alimentaria aids food safety across the globe

With its service guarantees, the lab provides the basis for the most relevant decisions in the food trade in order to ensure food safety and transparency throughout entire supply chain.

Analytica Alimentaria’s is a high-end laboratory that is a leading provider of independent food safety services across the globe.

“We offer sampling and high-end laboratory services for fresh produce, especially fruit and vegetables,” explained CEO and founder Udo Lampe.

Analytica Alimentaria laboratories have been doing direct sampling and inspections in production areas worldwide since 2008. It operates in more than 15 countries and is directly established in Spain, Germany, Peru, Italy and India. The lab provides reliable, on-time analysis.

“We respond to food safety strategies that fit the clients’ business models,” Lampe said. With its service guarantees, the lab provides the basis for the most relevant decisions in the food trade in order to ensure food safety and transparency throughout entire supply chain. AA’s ultimate goal is to protect consumers, prevent food scares and deliver reliable results before the products enter the market.

Udo Lampe is co-founder and a managing director of Analytica Alimentaria with more than 15 years’ experience in food safety. He is Chairman of the IAS task force on food safety, and a founding member of the relana® quality circle.

From the field to the lab

“We are in the field and in the lab, so we’re able to gather all the insights from the production and supply chain processes; this is our foundation for reliable lab analyses,” Lampe said. The feedback from the labs in turn helps the effectiveness of field inspections. “We know exactly where problems may arise and which residues and contaminants to look for.”

For example, AA’s clients ask: “What are the risks of pesticides drifting over to organic production fields? How does the recent flood impact the quality of the lettuces?” Then AA provides reliable answers to these questions and develops food safety strategies accordingly. “Our approach takes food safety and transparency to another quality level,” affirms Lampe. Moreover, Analytica Alimentaria’s laboratories are leaders in reliability and speed. This means that the results are more accurate and the value of the analyses for the clients is greater.

Focusing on people

At Analytica Alimentaria, the focus is on people. Food safety emerges where values like motivation, experience and integrity meet. Its clients know the Analytica Alimentaria team is a trustworthy partner, whenever and wherever they need them.

“Our work has become increasingly international. With our service portfolio, we respond to the challenges of globalized fruit and vegetable markets. Clients use our international expertise to move into new markets: Are table grapes from South Africa safe this season? Does my supplier meet the requirements of the German market? What are the risks of finding pesticide residues in products from a bio-certified grower?” Lampe said.

By answering these questions, AA can help its clients use food safety as an asset in their international purchasing strategies. “We also look after food imports to Europe, being present with our own staff in the major international ports like Rotterdam, Hamburg and Barcelona. In addition, we have recently expanded our on-the-ground presence to Latin America.” A team of AA agricultural engineers is now based in Peru.

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Two dead, 151 sick in UK E.coli outbreak

Authorities in the UK are investigating an outbreak of E.coli O157 which could be linked to eating mixed salad leaves, including rocket leaves.

Authorities in the UK are investigating an outbreak of E.coli O157.

In a press release, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the outbreak has been linked to eating mixed salad leaves, including rocket leaves, but a specific food source is yet to be confirmed.

The FSA said it is working closely with Public Health England (PHE) and local authorities to investigate the outbreak.

“As a precaution, the FSA is reminding people of the importance of good hand and food hygiene practices.

“All vegetables, including salads, intended to be eaten raw should be thoroughly washed unless they are specifically labelled ‘ready to eat’,” it said.

The PHE said in a separate press release that 151 cases of this strain of E. coli have been identified (figure correct as at 13 July 2016).

It said that 62 of the cases are known to have received hospital care and sadly, 2 of the individuals with E.coli O157 infection have died.

Read more here:


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French pesticide ban could aid US cherry exporters in other EU markets

While US cherry exports to France will be prohibited this year, due to the Dimethoate ban, on the positive side for US cherry exporters is that France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide – the French cherry crop is likely to be smaller and pricier – thus creating opportunities for France’s competitors in the EU, such as the UK.

France’s ban on cherry imports from countries where the pesticide Dimethoate is used has left fruit importers and traders fearing the country may soon apply similar bans involving other EU-approved pesticides or chemicals, according to a report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Should their fears come true, this would be akin to a “de-facto shutting down the free movement of EU and third-country fruits and vegetables into France,” the report says.

While US cherry exports to France will be prohibited this year, due to the Dimethoate ban, on the positive side for US cherry exporters is that France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide – the French cherry crop is likely to be smaller and pricier – thus creating opportunities for France’s competitors in the EU, such as the UK, the report says.

“On April 22, 2016, France temporarily banned the import and sales of cherries imported from countries where the chemical product dimethoate can be used on cherries and cherry trees. It follows the ban of its use for domestic production. Dimethoate was used to fight Drosphila suzukii, an Asian fruit fly which causes considerable damages in cherry orchards but is suspected by France of being dangerous to human health.

“France imports roughly one fifth of its consumption, the bulk coming from EU countries including some (such as Spain, Italy and Spain) that have already banned dimethoate. The French prohibition will de facto suspend imports of cherries from the United States, valued at around $1 million annually.

On the other hand, as France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide, French cherries are likely to be scarcer and more expensive, creating opportunities for competitors on traditional French export markets such as the UK.”

Overview of French cherry production and trade

France is a minor producer of cherries in the EU and its production has been declining steadily over the past few years. Most of its cherry production is concentrated in the country’s south and southwest. Its cherry exports go mostly to neighboring countries, such as Germany, Belgium and the UK.

A net importer of cherries, the bulk of France’s imports come from the EU (Spain, Belgium, and Germany) and Turkey. Chile is the main supplier of winter cherries.

The US has a niche market in France for late summer cherries (from mid- July to August) and French imports of US cherries (mainly from Oregon and Washington) are valued at about $ 1 million annually. It should also be noted that about half the cherries listed as imported from Netherlands are in fact US or Canadian cherries that cleared customs in that country.

Source: GAIN Report FR1606, 5/20/2016 “U.S. Cherries Exports to France hit by French Pesticide Ban”

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New produce safety rule in the US

The FDA said the new FSMA Produce Safety rule is all about “keeping food safe for consumption.” It establishes “mandatory science-based, minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.”

New testing and other standards for producing sprouts – which have been associated with various foodborne illness outbreaks – is one of the key elements of the now final FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule in the United States.

According to the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), the measures on sprouts aim to prevent contamination with dangerous microbes, such as Listeriamonocytogenes. It said other key elements of the new rule are:

  • Requirements for agricultural water quality and testing are designed to detect contamination by feces, which may be accompanied by bacteria that cause disease.
  • Requirements affecting use of biological soil amendments of animal origin (including manure and compost), which will help reduce the likelihood of potentially dangerous bacteria entering the food supply.
  • A requirement that during harvest, farmers take all reasonably necessary steps to identify potential contamination (including contamination by animals) and not harvest the affected produce. This is in recognition of the fact that there are often animals on farms, such as livestock, and even wild animals, like deer.
  • Farm workers handling covered produce and/or food contact surfaces, including their supervisors, must be trained in the importance of health and hygiene and farms must take steps to prevent contamination of produce and food-contact surfaces by people who are sick.
  • Standards applying to equipment, tools and buildings (including greenhouses and germination chambers), which aim to prevent problems, such as poor sanitation, causing produce contamination.

The FDA said the new rule is all about “keeping food safe for consumption.” It establishes “mandatory science-based, minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.”

According to The U.S. Apple Association (USApple), the ‘Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption’ will be officially published on November 27 and become effective 60 days later.

Compliance to the rule is staggered over several years depending upon the specific provision and size of the operation,” the association said.

“The rules are the most significant changes to produce safety regulation in 70 years, and have the potential to significantly affect tree fruit production practices,” it said. USApple has been actively advocating on behalf of the apple industry during development of the FSMA rule. “In particular, we focused on the Agricultural Water provisions in the second round of comments to the FDA. As a result, the agency added additional flexibility to the Agricultural Water provision in the final rule,” it said.

Read more about the FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety here: