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Henry Avocado food safety measures exceed industry standards

By
Rob Bryant

A year-round distributor since 1990, and a grower-packer since 1925, Henry Avocado has established many important partnerships, yet none more important nor timely than those involved in strengthening its product purity from sourcing to distribution from a number of sources.

Luke Varvel, food safety manager, and Jorge Tostado, sanitation manager, have linked their responsibilities to give Henry an around-the-clock regimen that is among the finest in the fresh produce industry.

First, Henry upgraded its sanitation program in 2019, that was developed under the guidance of Justin Kerr at Factor IV Solutions, a food facility sanitation consulting firm recognized for creating customized food safety practices.

At his suggestion, Henry reworked its packing line to eliminate components that were difficult to clean and implemented several operational improvements. Among them are the nightly use of state-of-the-art cleaning equipment. New cleaning agents like chlorine dioxide were an important part of the mix.

Now, Tostado’s cleaning crews apply rotating sanitizers to effectively treat all equipment and they have implemented full sanitation standard operating procedures, validated by Factor IV Solutions. It includes modernizing the packing line and performing annual deep-cleaning procedures. The after-hours sanitation crew were provided with the latest hygienic sanitation tools and detergents best suited to avocado packing lines.

Kerr said that the Henry duo of Varvel and Tostado have exceeded fresh avocado processing standards. “Luke and Jorge’s objective was to create the best sanitizing system possible by reducing contaminants from every source possible,” he said. “Ensuring their success, all levels of Henry’s personnel showed a remarkable spirit to learn and practice the procedures we introduced.

“A sanitation program, however, is only as good as its verification by independent sources,” he continued. “And we are allowed to continuously validate that Henry is getting the results you need to be the best.”

Capping the Factor IV innovations is a product flow sequence that limits the possibility of cross contamination. It includes isolating all product handling equipment to designated zones.

Coronavirus prevention practices were swiftly put into place in the packing and processing areas and will evolve as health agencies develop new models. Among them are prohibiting visitors in the processing areas, and, prior to starting a shift, all employees must wear a mask, answer Coronavirus questions, and have their temperature taken.

Headed by the Escondido facility, all of Henry’s Primus Labs-certified distribution centers meet or exceed the federal, state and Industry Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines.

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