Maine greenhouse tomato grower earns food safety awardBALTIMORE – In recognition of their food safety efforts, Backyard Farms LLC staff received the 13th annual Food Quality & Safety Award at the annual Food Safety Summit.

Rob McPheeters, diagnostics leader for DuPont Nutrition & Health, presented the award April 9 to Paul Mucci, president and chief operating officer, of the Madison, Maine, greenhouse company.

The award honors the “dedication and achievement of a North American quality assurance/quality control team that has made exceptional contributions to food safety and consumer satisfaction with a positive impact on business results,” according to summit organizers.

Mucci accepted the award on behalf of Backyard Farms’ employees, saying that their commitment to food safety in their 42-acre tomato greenhouse is unrelenting.

“Our quality controls are continually verified,” Mucci said, adding that end-product testing is just one part of the company’s overall food safety plan.

Mucci said lead grower Arie Van der Giessen and the team of growers at Backyard Farms are the first line of defense. Each grower tends 10 rows in the greenhouse, treating their plots like individual gardens and exercising food safety protocols that are continued in the company’s packing and shipping operations.

“Arie also tells us to smile and talk positively when we are walking through the greenhouse, too, because he thinks the plants can tell the difference,” Mucci said.