Food Safety Standards For Berries
Next to taste, Driscoll’s has made food safety the single most important focus of growing berries. Our primary concern is for the wholesomeness of our product and the safety of our berry consumers, our employees, our independent farmers and their workers. One of our highest priorities is to continually build on our industry leadership in food safety standards. This is our commitment to ensure that we always provide you with the freshest, safest, most flavorful berries.
Driscoll’s Global Food Safety Program
Our berries are grown, harvested and shipped with the highest standards of care possible and our rigorous food safety standards apply regardless of where the berries are grown. Driscoll’s Global Food Safety Program has been developed from decades of research, consumer feedback and close cooperation with food safety experts as well as state, federal and international regulatory agencies. It is founded on the principles of Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) established by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and reinforced through education, laboratory assays and annual third party audits.
As part of our Global Food Safety program, Driscoll’s employs independent third party auditors to verify that GAPs are being followed on every farm and facility around the world. Audits are performed by certified, independent third-party agencies to ensure adherence to Good Agricultural Practices for food safety set by the FDA. Our Global Food Safety Program audits are performed in the fields, cooling facilities and distribution facilities to monitor soil, water, fertilizer use, pest control methods, harvest practices and food safety and security procedures. The results of these audits are reviewed by Driscoll’s food safety staff. Non-compliance issues are addressed and corrective measures are verified by Driscoll’s.
Driscoll’s has performed over 2,500 independent third-party audits in the last twelve months through certified, independent third-party laboratories. The frequency and extent of Driscoll’s auditing program demonstrates our commitment to the highest standards of food safety.
Adherence to Driscoll’s Global Food Safety Program policy is a vital component of our independent farmer contractual relationships. We educate our independent farmers about company policy and enforce strict adherence. Our independent farmers are responsible for adhering to federal, state and local food safety regulations. If inconsistencies are discovered, we investigate the potential violation with the farmer. Driscoll’s strives for immediate resolution of any non-compliance issues. Each farmer is aware that non-compliance carries consequences, up to and including termination of their association with Driscoll’s.
In the United States, federal and state laws strictly regulate the use of pesticides. U.S. EPA, U.S. FDA, and state and county agencies all have regulatory authority governing the safe use of pesticides. All independent farmers around the world who grow Driscoll’s berries must adhere to local and federal laws applicable to that growing region as well as country specific import and export regulations.
Driscoll’s independent farmers are leaders in the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM employs a combination of natural and synthetic means to reduce disease and pest pressures. IPM employs constant field monitoring and also includes the use of beneficial organisms to control damaging pests. Driscoll’s independent farmers are free to choose which Integrated Pest Management methods they use. Regardless of the pest control method, all pesticide use must be in compliance with federal and state laws.
Driscoll’s has made a commitment to significantly increase the production of organic berries and utilize our experience in organic farming to reduce the use of synthetic materials (including pesticides) in all of our products. For additional information on specific pesticides available for use by farmers, please refer to the U.S. EPA's website.
Most water used for irrigation is sourced from deep wells or municipal sources. Microbial levels in irrigation water are monitored at every farm. All the independent farmers around the world who grow Driscoll’s berries must adhere to the same stringent water quality standards. Where alternate sources of water are used, Driscoll’s specifies a more stringent monitoring schedule and employs appropriate water treatment systems to ensure that the water quality is suitable for its intended use.
Foreign Object Contamination
Driscoll’s strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are handpicked and packaged in the field. Harvest crews who pick the berries are routinely audited to ensure compliance with good agricultural principles. To ensure the utmost quality and freshness, the berries are not touched again until opened by consumers. Blueberries are typically packed in the final consumer clamshell in packing sheds. These packing facilities are carefully monitored and audited to verify compliance with good agricultural practices.
Farmer Education and Support
Information sharing helps our independent farmers excel. Driscoll’s Quality Assurance and Food Safety departments have more than 65 full-time employees who monitor fruit quality and work closely with farmers to ensure that the standards of Driscoll’s Global Food Safety Program are met. Driscoll’s farmers receive high scores on food safety, and worker and environmental welfare audits. By sharing their best practices, Driscoll’s independent farmers are able to grow the safest, fresh, most flavorful berries possible all year-round.
Driscoll’s berries are grown, harvested and shipped with the highest standards of care possible, regardless of where they are grown. We routinely audit all our farms and facilities around the world to ensure that we comply with and exceed national and international food safety rules. Every batch of berries we produce is inspected for quality and appearance by our highly trained staff to ensure they are fresh and delicious when they reach our customers. Our berries are cooled immediately after they leave the field and are not handled by anyone other than the consumer. This reduces bruising and maintains the berries’ wholesomeness throughout transportation. We are committed to providing consumers with useful information about where Driscoll’s berries are grown. Country of origin information is clearly stated on every product label and we support voluntary labeling programs that offer consumers more information about our products.
Driscoll’s has a barcode-based inventory tracking system in place to identify the field and harvest date of all fruit. In the rare event of a product quality concern or recall, Driscoll’s can quickly identify what product is affected, determine the product source (area/farm), investigate the issue and if necessary, retrieve the product throughout the distribution chain. Driscoll’s is continually investigating technical improvements to our product trace-back capabilities.