(Sept. 18) In light of recent food quality scares, one company puts complete faith in its quality assurance system.

It has been a year since E.W. Brandt & Sons Inc., Parker, Wash., initiated its new food safety program.

“I’ve noticed (food safety scares) quite a bit in the last year. It seems like every week I’ve read something,” said Amy Eversole, quality assurance manager at E.W. Brandt.

E.W. Brandt’s program can be split into two sections, quality control and assurance and traceability. The quality control and assurance department acts separately from production to eliminate potential bias. All produce goes through at least nine checkpoints from the field to the truck.

Each box of produce has an individual bar code. Information stored with its code includes variety, grade, pack, size, grower, lot number, box weight, date and time of pack. Because each box is monitored individually and often, E.W. Brandt representatives say traceability is uncomplicated.

“We are a smaller company so we have to stay ahead to compete. We are always trying to find ways to make us stand out from others,” Eversole said.

E.W. Brandt was one of the first business in the U.S. to be certified under the Safe Quality Food 2000 program. This comprehensive food safety management assessment program meets the benchmark requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative established by the Food Business Forum. It is designed to accommodate growers, processors, distributors and warehousing and transportation organizations, according to its Web site, www.sqfi.com.

“Our president has close ties in Australia. He was traveling and saw (Safe Quality Food 2000) in action, spoke to them, and thought it would be a great program in the U.S.,” Eversole said.