Is It Safe?

Food Safety

2011 was a year marked by too many produce recalls in Canada and the United States. Because of a Salmonella scare, the year started with the pulling of cilantro from store shelves and ended with a similar recall of Jalapeño and Serrano chili peppers imported from Mexico. In the months between, the public were notified of many other recalls such as Alfalfa Sprouts* (Listeria), Romaine Lettuce** (E. coli), as well as field-grown “organic” grape tomatoes*** from Mexico (Salmonella) and more have continued in 2012.

Whenever this type of news hits the airways, people are concerned. I can’t blame them for that, even though the consumer’s health is rarely affected. The bottom line is safety first; reputable growers know that. But, you can also play an important role in food safety. I suggest you start by reading the label. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Where the product was grown. This is often in fine print, particularly when the product is from outside of the US and Canada. Naturally, I have a bias for Canadian and US grown produce because of high food safety regulations. Other countries aren’t as diligent. Costa Rica, for example, happens to be one of the highest users of pesticides in the world.

  2. How the product was grown. Is the product from the field or from a greenhouse? If the label says “greenhouse grown”, make sure you can trust the brand. There are some out there claiming to be greenhouse growers but they are really field grown under canopies of cloth or plastic. Canadian and America greenhouse growers are currently preparing certification standards to help consumers know the difference.

  3. The reputation of the brand. The produce industry is one of the last to ‘brand’ their products. Houweling’s is trying to change that. Thanks to QR codes, web sites, Twitter and Facebook, you can uncover the grower’s philosophy on quality, labor practices, food safety and the environment.

    And before you eat or cook with it at home:
  4. Washing produce is always a good idea although it is no assurance of ridding the produce of residues.

Rest assured, at Houweling’s we take food safety very seriously. This is part of the reason why, when you buy Houweling’s Tomatoes, you have my guarantee that the product was grown by us in Camarillo, CA or Delta, BC.

With my regards,

Our Mindset




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