TIPS FOR SUPPLYING, DISPLAYING, AND PACKAGING ORGANIC PRODUCE
When supplying, displaying, and packaging organic produce, the primary goal is to maintain organic integrity. Here are a few general guidelines.
Sometimes produce requires handling, such as trimming, crisping or wrapping, before it is stocked in the store. Contamination from conventional produce and sanitizers is the main danger in prep areas.
- Preparation areas should be clean and free of conventional produce when organic items are present
- Trays, buckets, utensils, and other equipment used in processing conventional produce must be cleaned before using them to process organic products. One option is to prep organic produce first, at the beginning of the day
- Consider having labeled cutting boards and utensils that are used solely for organic products
- Never use water in a sink or tub to cool or crisp organic produce if conventional products were first introduced to that water. Conventional produce may have residues from pesticides that were washed off into the water
- Wash sinks thoroughly to ensure no residues remain on the sides or bottom, then add clean water before adding organic produce
- Water used to rinse organic produce must meet the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
- Residual chlorine in prep water can be no higher than 4mg/liter
- Store cleaning products and sanitizers where they do not pose a risk to organic produce. Never store such materials above a sink or prep area
Organic Display Guidelines
In display areas, organic produce should not touch conventional product if the product is unwrapped. A quick review of display areas should be done periodically to identify all areas where commingling may occur.
- If unwrapped organic produce must be placed directly next to unwrapped conventional produce, insert a divider between the products so the they do not directly touch or use containers to separate organic and non-organic items
- Wash shelf liners between use in organic and non-organic areas
- Misting systems in refrigerated cases require scrutiny. Never place conventional produce above organic if mist water can drip onto the organic products
- Iced conventional produce should not be placed above organic for the same reason
- Prevent customer commingling of organic and conventional produce by physically separating items to the greatest extent possible and using bold signage to differentiate "organic" produce
- Provide separate scoops or tongs for organic and non-organic bulk produce, like loose spring mix or spinach
Organic packaging guidelines
Organic produce must be packaged in new or recycled food-grade organic materials. Do not recycle trays, bags or plastic wrap previously used for conventional products. Packaging should be free of fumigants, mold-inhibitors, and dyes that may contaminate produce.
Display containers, if not dedicated to organic produce, must be washed and rinsed prior to organic use. Display shelf liners that were previously used for conventional produce must not be used for organic without proper washing.
Repackaging of organic produce is only allowed by certified organic handlers.