Guilty by Association

Guilty byAssociation

SproutNet

International Specialty Supply

February 19, 2002

Dear Bob

"Whenthere is a sprout outbreak all growers who have the same lot number are involvedin the recall of seed and sprouts.  We handle ALL our seed as though it iscontaminated.  We sanitize it using the method recommended by the FDA andwe post test it using the FDA recommended method.  We have never had an outbreakyet I am concerned that we could be guilty by association.  Is thereanything we can do to disassociate ourselves from an outbreak if a grower withthe same seed lot is not as conscientious as we are?"

Dear Grower

A keyprinciple of HACCP is to insure that the ingredients that go into thefinished product are of the highest quality, and to have documentation on filethat verifies the food safety and quality requirements.  

Butthere is more to it than just seed sanitizing and post testing.  Purchasing seedcan be likened to flying on a plane.  You need to feel confident thepassengers you share the plane with are safe and the pilot knows howto fly.  If the plane goes down, no matter whose fault, you becomepart of the carnage - regardless of how good your seat belt is.

Whenyou "share" a seed lot with other growers, either knowingly orunknowingly, you are risking that they will not have an outbreak either. If they do, you could find the local evening news warning consumers toavoid your sprouts grown from the same lot. 

As aseed supplier, part of ISS' own risk reduction plan includes sellingto growers it feels are some of the safest in the industry.  Wego to them because it reduces our risk.  They come to us because:  

* They wantand need the kind of testing and documentation only ISS provides.

* ISS rejects asubstantial amount of the seed lots it samples for food safety reasons.  Seedis usually rejected because of damage, droppings, urine or fecalcontamination.  One lot was rejected because of the presence of E.coli0157:H7.  

* ISS informsthem about its seed safety procedures and signs off on every step it doesto each lot of seed.

* ISS helpseducate them and helps them set up their own HACCP programs.

* ISS hasa seed HACCP program in place and shares it with them.  Until recently, youcould not get a college degree in HACCP.  ISS' HACCP manager, who isa registered nurse, returned to college to get her degree in HACCP.

* SungardenSprouts, a division of ISS has been a commercial sprout producer for 23years.  It uses ISS seed also.  

* They wouldrather "share" their seed lots with like minded growers.

It'sall a matter of risk reduction