Commodity specific food safety guidelines for the production, harvest, post-harvest, and valued-added unit operations of green onions

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The purpose of this document is to provide green onion growers, packers, and shippers with effective guidelines to reduce the potential of microbial contamination of green onions. The issues identified are based on the core elements of GAPs and cGMPs. The specific recommendations contained herein are intended for green onions only. If these specific recommendations are effectively implemented this would constitute the Best Practices for a comprehensive food safety program for the production, harvest, and processing of green onions. When growing any type of produce, growers should comply with the FDA’s “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.”
SCOPE This document is designed to offer food safety guidance for growers and handlers of green onions during production, harvesting, packing, and shipping operations. It includes three sections: 1) Production and Harvest Unit Operations, 2) Post-Harvest Unit Operations, and 3) Value-Added Unit Operations.
Green onions are generally harvested by hand, and can be packed in the field, in a packinghouse or in a processing plant. Due to harvesting by hand, quality sorting, and the practice of bunching and packing these commodities, there are numerous “touch points” early in the supply chain. Each of these “touch points” represents a potential opportunity for contamination. Green onions are primarily sold as a raw and value-added product. In a processing environment, raw green onions are cleaned, trimmed, sometimes cut, and packed in some form of plastic, protective packaging. Therefore, green onions offer several unique opportunities to employ food safety risk management practices to enhance their safety.
Safe production, packing, processing, distribution, and handling of green onions depend upon a myriad of factors and the diligent efforts and food safety commitment of many parties throughout the distribution chain. No single resource document can anticipate every food safety issue or provide answers to all food safety questions. These guidelines focus on minimizing only the microbial food safety hazards by providing suggested potential actions to reduce, control, or eliminate microbial contamination of green onions in the field-to-fork supply chain.