Mastronardi Produce received the 2010 Food Quality Award at the 2011 Food Safety Summit. The company demonstrated integrity in product quality-and innovative ways of supporting sustainability.
The Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET traceability program allows the tracing of all products back to the country of origin, state or region within that country and the greenhouse within that state or region. At the greenhouse, produce is identified with a product labeling unit (PLU) indicating the growing farm, date of harvest and commodity name. The information is labeled on each product box or container along with the country of origin. Source: Mastronardi Produce.
Mastronardi Produce received the 2010 Food Quality Award at the 2011 Food Safety Summit. The company demonstrated integrity in product quality-and innovative ways of supporting sustainability
Though he didn’t mention it in his acceptance speech at the 10th Annual
Food Quality Award presentation held during the recent Food Safety
Summit, Joe Darden, Mastronardi Produce vice president of food safety,
could have said something about integrity, which certainly played a role
in his company’s winning the 2010 Quality Award. The award presentation
was cosponsored by DuPont Qualicon, Food Quality
and BNP Media.
Mastronardi Produce began as a greenhouse operation in the 1940s in Kingsville, Ontario. Today, it’s a family-owned business that is employee managed with locations throughout the US, Mexico and Canada.
With a supply chain distributed throughout North and Central America,
the company distributes and sells to the 25 top retailers in North America.
Mastronardi’s distribution centers are certified to the Safe Quality
Food (SQF) standard SQF 2000 Level 3, and its greenhouse growing centers
are certified to SQF 1000 Level 2.
The processor has its own employee staffed labs. One microbiology lab
tests inbound and outbound products and packages, and a second lab
specializes in shelf life, product quality and package testing. In
addition to quality certifications, the company has products meeting
both USDA and Canadian organic standards.
“Mastronardi Produce is committed to food safety and food quality. We
have a solid team of dedicated professionals leading our food safety
department and maintaining the programs that continue to keep us ahead
of the game,” says Paul Mastronardi, president. “Our goal is to provide
the highest level of food safety and quality, and to continuously exceed
government requirements. Our mandate is to constantly be proactive.”
Innovation, according to Darden, has been responsible for several new
products and packaging, traceability and environmentally related
projects. In his talk, Darden described the processor’s packaged, small,
sweet tomatoes that are being sold to kids as a nutritionally healthy
substitute for candy. New packaging concepts produced thermal-wrapped
cucumbers, plastic-packaged tomatoes and a clear, laminated,
shear-resistant, resealing produce pack.
Darden claims his company is one of the first in the industry to implement traceability
in 2002. “We feel it’s very important to trace back to our growers each
unit package that we sell-whether it is a PLU sticker or a product
label. We want to be able to know who the grower was of that particular
Mastronardi’s track and trace system could be a model for other
producers. “Our [track-and-trace] system was featured during the 2008 Salmonella St. Paul crisis on CNN (“Lou Dobb’s Tonight” [script]) as a best industry practice,” he adds.
In addition to quality, sustainability is a core value of
Mastronardi. In fact, Darden described a symbiotic relationship between a
fertilizer factory and a new greenhouse growing plant in Canada.
The project was completed in 2010 and is now producing peppers. The
first of its kind, the plant uses the heat generated by the fertilizer
plant to keep the greenhouse warm during the winter, and the greenhouse
uses the CO2 byproduct the fertilizer plant produces to feed
its plants, which is then turned into oxygen through photosynthesis.
This growing facility has been certified to be carbon-negative-while
most plants generate carbon, this facility actually converts more carbon
back into oxygen than it creates itself.
With an eye toward the future, Darden described a growing center
scenario in the heart of a city, a facility that puts people to work and
requires almost no transportation to move its products to customers,
who also live in the city and its environs. Darden asked the audience to
imagine a large building with pods stacked on top of each other. Each
pod would host the growing of certain vegetables in a controlled
artificial environment with correct lighting, atmosphere, water and
plant food. No pesticides would be needed because the sealed environment
would keep out pests. As fuel prices climb higher, the ideal situation
of transporting produce next door to a distribution center makes sense.