Hairnets and pole barns: Watermelon group voices audit concerns

Chris Koger of The Packer writes that watermelon growers insist there’s no food safety risk involved without hairnets, and that a majority of watermelon shippers pack in pole barns.

watermelon-truckAnd they’re probably right.

So how to reconcile the demands of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act and auditor requirements?

Courtney Cox, who as director of quality assurance for Primus AuditingOps, follows up on grower complaints stemming from third-party audits by her company, told the National Watermelon Association’s Convention the single most common non-compliant issue in the watermelon industry  — with 76% of facilities — is the mandate for four walls.

Several in attendance also pointed out that no retailer demands their own employees wear hairnets when handling watermelons.

NWA executive director Bob Morrissey told growers he plans to follow up with Azzule Systems — owns the PrimusGFS auditing scheme – adding, “I assure you from the association level we are going to aggressively approach (Azzule) to discuss these things. We need to get to some point where these audits are making common sense and stop with these expectations that are unrealistic, that are not only causing (growers-shippers) harm, but are causing them money.”