Representatives of the fresh tomato supply chain will convene at the headquarters of the Florida Tomato Exchange in Maitland this February to review how well the Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, more commonly referred to as the Tomato Metrics, have worked over the past year.

The purpose of the Tomato Metrics is to provide guidance on effective food safety systems for tomato production and handling, and as an audit tool to demonstrate the effectiveness of those systems.

The meetings, Feb. 1-2, are open to all stakeholders interested in safe production and handling practices for fresh tomatoes.

During the meetings, the group will also hear observations from auditors and customers, opportunities to improve and enhance the standards, and briefings from FDA officials like Michelle Smith from the agency’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, on recent tomato operation investigations.

"It's been invaluable to watch the development of the Tomato Food Safety System and Audit Protocol. This work helped inform our draft Tomato Supply Chain guidance in 2009,” said Smith.

“I'm looking forward to hearing about the industry’s efforts to foster adoption of this program and how it has worked over the last year. We congratulate the tomato industry on its continuing efforts to ensure the adoption of best practices for the growing, packing and handling of tomatoes along the supply chain."