Case Studies & Field Reports
Field Reports

Organic mushroom producer automates track and trace

January 7, 2013

Producer meets PTI and FSMA objectives while elevating quality with a paperless electronic system.
Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms is a fifth-generation grower/packer and shipper of fresh mushrooms. Established in 1921 and operated by Arthur P. Yeatman, the company is arguably one of America’s oldest and largest certified organic mushroom farms. With the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) combined with FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act), North American produce companies are faced with a choice of how to address the demanding requirements of tracking incoming palletized produce; washing, grading and slicing processes; and finished goods packaging. Traditional paper trail systems are no longer viable in recall situations, and they’re expensive to maintain.
For these reasons, Mother Earth decided to invest in a solution that was proven in the mushroom industry and easy to use on the production floor. “We were able to visit To-Jo Mushrooms and see the SG Systems [SGS] Vantage solution, which had been implemented in December 2009,” says Meghan Klotzbach, quality assurance coordinator. “The solution proved to generate impressive financial savings and hit the PTI milestones at the same time. The management team at To-Jo recommended SG Systems and is a keen supporter of PTI, using it to drive business improvement. On this basis, we decided to make the investment with SG Systems and go for a 2012 implementation.”
The system—which consists of six SGS Vantage touch screen operator terminals, thermal label printers and barcode reader, scales and four handheld computers/scanners—enables incoming pallets to be weighed and labeled with information relating to the lot number, product, supplier, weight and barcode. As the products are shipped, the traceability is linked back to the incoming lot number and subsequently all the way through the packaging process.
In receiving, mushrooms are weighed using a connected floor scale, and information about the delivery is logged using a Vantage touch screen. Information about the supplier, mushroom type, expiration date, weight and storage location is captured electronically. The data is stored on the server, and a label is generated to identify the pallet. 
In addition, five SGS Vantage terminals are situated on the production lines with label printers and barcode readers. The pallet tags are scanned, and then an operator selects the output product, which is being packed on the lines. For example, if Organic White Mushrooms is the inbound product, the terminals display all possible combinations for the outbound product, such as 5 lbs. sliced, 10 lbs. sliced, etc. As each box is labeled, inventory is adjusted accordingly. Each case is now PTI complaint with a case end label. The bulk terminals are connected to weighing scales to control the target weights and reduce unnecessary product giveaway.  
In shipping, four SGS mobile computers are connected to the wireless network. As sales orders are entered in the office, the orders are automatically transferred to the devices to enable rapid picking, packing and shipping. Delivery notes are produced, and the entire delivery is traceable to its original lot number received at the dock. The system details which customers have been supplied with the inbound lot, giving emergency contact details in the event of a product recall.
For more information:
Jason Galloway, 214-819-9570,

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