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Pundit’s Mailbag — Hairnets In The Field There For A Reason

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, July 27, 2010

We ran a piece built around a letter from Alan Siger, President & CEO at Consumers Produce Co., Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The piece poked a little fun at the idea of wearing hairnets in an outdoor field as a food safety measure.

Now we are getting double-teamed:

First came this note:

I can appreciate Alan’s comments, and while the LGMA metrics are debated ad nauseum, it should be noted that in this photo some of us were about to enter a romaine field where the crop was being processed into whole leaf lettuce singles.

From the field they are brought into a facility for finished washing, drying, inspection, packing, etc… I suppose we can debate the effectiveness of wearing them in the field, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, if you ask me.

Mann does require and will require all visitors to wear hairnets (and trust me…no one likes being photographed wearing one!).

— Lorri Koster
VP of Marketing
Co-Chairman, Board of Directors
Mann Packing Company
Salinas, California

Then quickly afterwards this one:

I wanted to make a note that the field Lorri toured was a field being harvested FOR processing.

We do take extra precautions for field harvesting for “process”. Not all GAP’s require hairnets in fields, but we have now adapted all food safety standards to be the same for each product. It helps continuity in training programs, which is the first and most important step in Food Safety.

Hairnets may seem overkill, but no one wants to eat a salad and see a hair in it. From the kitchen or from the field.

Why not take that extra step of prevention for a cleaner better pack of produce?

— Gina Nucci
Director of Food Service Marketing
Mann Packing Company
Salinas, California

PS: Dogs are no longer allowed in fields… not just for photo ops… but not in the back of your pickup truck.

We knew Lorri and Gina’s father, Don Nucci, and these ladies are definitely Don Nucci’s daughters — so we know when to quit.

Gina makes a good point in that we were talking about food safety, she adds the idea of quality, pointing out that nobody wants to find a hair in the vegetables, no matter where it came from.

Lorri points out the importance of doing everything one can to get the best quality and safety as well as the importance of consistency and simplicity in establishing rules for employees

These are important points. Although we are not aware of any studies that actually show that wearing hairnets in the field makes any difference in safety or quality — it is worth noting that every associate in the place saw that Lorri Koster, the co-Chairman of the company, put on her hairnet and made her visiting guests do so as well.

That sends a message to everyone associated with the operation that safety and quality are the highest priorities and that even the smallest rules are there for a reason and apply to the biggest bosses.

That itself is a strong reason to do it.

As for the Pundit, the whole Pundit family is heading out to Monterey to attend PMA’s Annual Foodservice Conference. When we visit our friends at Mann Packing, we will wear both a hairnet and a helmet. The hairnet protects the field; the helmet protects us from getting beat up by Lorri and Gina.

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