Prevention is First, Always
We employ a unique Fresh Express 7 Steps of Prevention™ Food Safety Program. This program is comprised of a comprehensive and synchronized set of prevention-based food safety practices and standards that are in place throughout all stages of the salad-making process, from seed development to distribution for store shelves. We are also proud that our comprehensive food safety program has become widely recognized throughout our industry as well as the overall food industry.
We believe rigorous prevention-based practices must be in place at all junctures in the creation of our fresh salads to address any potential problems before they occur. Before the first seed is even planted, sound food safety and agricultural practices are already in place. We begin with the careful selection of the ground where we plant. We continue our preventive food safety measures all the way through growing, harvesting, the cooling process and every phase of preparation until our fresh salads are delivered for distribution to your store shelves or local restaurants.
1. Sound, Safe Agricultural Practices
Our growers and harvesters must meet the high standards we have developed for growing
and field practices, irrigation and water quality, resource management, sanitation,
harvesting and much more. They must comply with all
government regulations. Leafy greens fields are audited every season throughout
the growing cycle. Specialist teams carefully conduct audit-inspections for field
and crops to examine field conditions at multiple times prior to harvest and at
harvest time to approve the quality and food safety compliance prior to growing,
and during production and harvest.
2. Certification at Multiple Points Drives Strong Compliance
The Fresh Express alliance of its contracted growers for lettuce and leafy greens
are audited for compliance to our strict standard, with special certificates presented
to confirm their qualifications, their understanding of important food safety principles,
and their ability to meet food safety requirements and compliance expectations.
Each year our Food Safety specialists inspect over 180,000 acres, complete more
than 2,000 individual audit surveys and conduct over 1,500 product safety reviews
to ensure consistency and compliance. This rigorous approach allows us to address
potential problems before they occur.
Using proprietary standards and documentation, we ensure that our rigorous standards
are met. This approach allows us to continuously evaluate and improve our practices,
taking advantage of new advancements and techniques as warranted.
3. Crafting Salads with Care and Excellence
All of our lettuces and leafy greens are carefully and thoroughly washed, blended
and prepared using our custom processes. Then they
are gently packaged using our specially-developed breathable bags and containers
designed to maintain freshness longer. Each type of lettuce or custom salad mix
receives its own packaging system adjusted for optimal freshness - all to ensure
the most enjoyable experience for our consumers.
Just as in growing the crop, prevention is a primary focal point in our plants.
We meticulously follow FDA-required Good Manufacturing Practices. In addition, we
follow the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) through
a rigorous system designed to prevent and mitigate against potential problems at
key junctures during salad-making process.
Our quality team conducts thousands of safety and quality tests in our salad plants
every year. In fact, multiple tests are performed all day long. Our plants, located
around the country, and our safety practices are reviewed and evaluated by third-party
auditors to ensure our food safety systems are continuously being executed to our
4. A Focus on Training and Education Drives Food Safety Vigilance
At Fresh Express, we are firm believers that continual training and ongoing education
at all levels are critical to food safety vigilance.
We conduct hundreds of training sessions, seminars and summits for our employee
teams every year to achieve our food safety goals. We also conduct special sessions
for our alliance of growers to ensure they are adept at all of our enhanced requirements
and that their teams and crews are equally prepared to fulfill their food safety
obligations each and every day. We employ a large food safety and quality team of
specially trained professionals, including microbiologists, agronomists, soil scientists
and other experts to make sure our programs and efforts for our consumers always
stay at the forefront of food safety excellence.
Continuous research and education are important components of our external food
safety program. Most recently, Fresh Express invested $2 million to fund nine independent
research projects on the E.coli 0157:H7 pathogen. We believe it is important for
us, and the entire produce industry, to learn more about this pathogen and its impact
on leafy greens. We also established an independent Scientific Advisory Panel made
up of top food safety experts who evaluated the research proposals and selected
those they believed held the most promise. Just one short year later, Fresh Express
shared the findings of all nine completed projects at the Fresh Express Fresh Produce
Safety Research Conference, an open forum attended by hundreds of interested growers,
produce leaders, researchers, food safety experts and the general public. The summit
is an outstanding example of the broader educational goals that Fresh Express believes
are important for the entire leafy greens industry.
5. Where Your Salad Comes From, Where They Go
Another important component of an effective food safety program is the ability to
trace leafy greens products back to where they were grown, and forward to where
they were distributed. We have had an extensive,
fully integrated traceability system that has been in place for many years, long
before the industry's Produce Traceability Initiative was begun. In fact, the system
utilized by Fresh Express, which uses coordinated bar-code tracking is presented
as a model to the industry today.
We are proud of our food safety accomplishments, including our traceability system.
Most importantly, we are proud to offer a product that consumers can enjoy with
utmost confidence in its freshness and safety.
6. Security Goes Hand in Hand with Safety
At Fresh Express, we are committed to proactively ensuring the security of the food
supply. Our multi-tiered, cross-functional system
promotes food security and defense, is compliant with all FDA food security recommendations
and is led by specially-trained teams in each facility and at upper management.
Education and training of general employees are pivotal to a program of vigilance
and ongoing scrutiny.
Stringent security requirements are established for each facility as well as at
key junctures in our salad-making operations, whether in the fields, in our plants,
or during transportation and shipping. Standard operating procedures are customized
to each location and operation. We also utilize a "truck seal" program that limits
the potential for tampering from the time our salads leave our facilities, to the
time they reach their final destination and are carefully unloaded. Each Fresh Express
location has trained staff who specialize in ensuring security measures are continuously
7. Responding with Speed and Thoroughness
Highly skilled staff responds rapidly and thoroughly to special situations and unanticipated
needs that may arise. Customized alert procedures
are set in place to identify needs or concerns at the earliest possible time and
mobilize a rapid response team for immediate support.