(April 8, 12:18 p.m.) Growers Ice Co., Salinas, Calif., is opening a new cooler in time for the start of the Salinas Valley lettuce and vegetable season — and the coming demand for space to hold product pending lab results for pathogens.

Growers Ice General Manager Dennis Stephens said the company owns the 25,400-square-foot building, which is an addition to an existing cooler, and will lease it to Central Coast Cooling Inc., Salinas. The new cooler is one of seven Growers Ice owns in Salinas, Stephens said, and will be able to hold up to 200,000 cartons of produce.

“Food safety requires that a lot of items be held until the quality analysis comes back from the lab and this is just the means to allow extra safe holding until everything is clear,” Stephens said.

The cooler is designed primarily for pre-packaged salads and mixed items but can hold most of the produce grown in Salinas, Stephens said.

Ernie Mill, president and chief executive officer of Mill Construction, which built the facility, said it was completed in about 90 days.

“The building was fast-tracked because of the critical time element with produce coming out of the field when it wants to, not when you want it to,” Mill said.

Mill said the facility was built for food safety holdover requirements and uses technology to minimize energy consumption and maximize efficiencies. The week of April 6, it was undergoing final inspection, he said, and should be open by April 10.

Growers Ice operates cooling facilities throughout the U.S. and Mexico, Stephens said, providing mobile cooling technology for produce and other industries.

Designed with three-high pallet racking, the Growers Ice facility maximizes every inch of storage space with the interior surfaces of the wall, and panel joints are caulked for cleanliness and food safety, according to the news release.

The building features three-high pallet racking, insulated pipes, movement sensors for lighting and temperature sensors. It maintains a 34- to 35- degree temperature range, according to a news release.

New Salinas cooler caters to food safety needs
The new Growers Ice Co. facility was built for food safety holdover requirements and uses technology to minimize energy consumption and maximize efficiencies, says president and chief executive officer Ernie Mill. The week of April 6, the facility was undergoing final inspection, and should be open by April 10, Mill says.

Courtesy Growers Ice Co.