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Three industry trade associations released a new voluntary food-safety guidance document March 2 in an effort to strengthen the safety of the green onion supply chain.

Western Growers Association, the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, with the support of other industry associations, academics, regulatory agencies and the green onion industry, released the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production, Harvest, Post-Harvest, and Value-Added Operations of Green Onions.

"After several years of work, it is extremely satisfying to finally complete this project," Sonia Salas, science and technology manager for WGA, said in a March 2 press release issued by the association. "As growers and handlers begin to apply these practices, the value of these voluntary guidelines will increase. Additionally, we will treat this as a living, breathing document -- updating it as new science presents itself."

This document is based on work begun by the fresh produce industry in the summer of 2006, at the request of the U. S. Food & Drug Administration, and is meant to augment green onion food-safety efforts already underway in Mexico and Canada.

The document represent a "substantial body of work that will provide a much-needed general framework which growers, packers, distributors, marketers, regulators, and consumers can use as the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of food safety controls used with the production of this fresh vegetable," Dr. Robert Buchanan, director of the Center for Food Safety & Security Systems at the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, said in the WGA press release.

"This document ... establishes the level of performance, programs and procedures that, when adopted, will significantly increase the level of food safety across the green onion supply chain," Dave Murphy, director of food safety and quality programs at Boskovich Farms Inc., added in the press release. "Many of the most [highly] regarded experts in growing, processing, and selling of green onions have collaborated on this document. I encourage everyone in our industry to take advantage of the Guide in their operations."