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Demand among foodservice operators for locally grown produce is on the rise, but so are questions about how to ensure its safety. To that end, Pro*Act, one of America's leading distributors of fresh produce to the foodservice industry, has published two new guidance documents to increase understanding and use of proper food-safety standards and procedures in this burgeoning business.

The two Pro*Act documents are Food Safety Requirements for Suppliers of Locally Grown Produce and Food Safety Questionnaire for Locally Grown Produce.

The first, targeted at local farmers, covers requirements for conditions and procedures that govern food safety as it applies to produce grown for local consumption.

These requirements are derived from Pro*Act's existing industry-leading food-safety standards and are modified for smaller producers. "Local suppliers are typically small farmers, and their operations tend to be seasonal and small scale," Max Yeater, chief operating officer, said in a press release. "They may lack written procedures, record-keeping and verification of food- safety programs. We created these food-safety standards and procedures for 'buy local' business to help smaller farmers understand the procedures that must be followed."

The second document is a questionnaire designed to help Pro*Act distributors determine if a local farmer is complying with the group's stringent food-safety requirements. "As a distribution organization, we're seeing more operators seeking out locally grown produce, and we're working to help meet the demand by getting local products into our distribution system," Mr. Yeater said in the release. "But just as with our national-brand produce, we need to assure that sufficient food-safety features are built into the process. The questionnaire is designed as a tool to help our distributors be able to do that in their local markets."

The two food-safety guidance documents are the result of a collaborative effort between Pro*Act management and a working group of distributors with significant local grower business.