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Willcox, AZ-based Eurofresh Farms, a year-round producer and marketer of greenhouse-grown tomatoes and cucumbers also located in Snowflake, AZ, has developed and is implementing a benchmark food-safety system to elevate the protection of its produce.

Eurofresh announced the food-safety protocol during the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition Oct. 15-18 in Orlando, FL.

EnviroLock is a new process that increases the safety of Eurofresh Farms’ products by further controlling the physical entry points in the growing and packaging areas of its facilities and works in tandem with the company’s existing controlled greenhouse environment.

EnviroLock facilities have been installed at several sites at the Willcox facility and will be fully implemented throughout all company greenhouses by early 2011.

"We’re setting a new industry standard for food safety with our EnviroLock system," Johan van den Berg, chief executive officer and founder of Eurofresh Farms, said in an Oct. 15 press release. “By taking extra safety measures, we are further preventing pathogens from entering the facilities and are ensuring that our customers and consumers receive the highest-quality, and best- tasting produce possible.”

Mr. Van den Berg noted in the release that even though Eurofresh Farms has never been affected by instances of foodborne illness or disease, the company developed EnviroLock as an additional preventative and precautionary protocol against such an event.

“It is nearly impossible for bacteria like Salmonella to come in contact with our produce because of our meticulous greenhouse growing practices,” he said in the release. “However, we are setting a higher standard for food safety here at Eurofresh Farms.”

With the EnviroLock system, anyone entering the greenhouse facilities must pass through a sanitation facility, where they must first wash and disinfect their hands and forearms, then change into sanitized, hospital-style scrubs and shoes. These uniforms are color-coded to indicate the specific section of the greenhouse in which they will be working. Hairnets and sterile gloves are also worn before entering the growing areas.

“Our operations team decided to color-code the EnviroLock uniforms to help eliminate any potential for cross-contamination,” Craig Boudle, senior manager of environmental safety and risk management for Eurofresh Farms, added in the release. “The color-coding system allows supervisors to visually identify who should be in specific areas as well as promote an understanding among employees of the company’s safety procedures.”