(July 19) Three years before the tainted spinach and lettuce episodes of 2006, James Johnson, vice president of Carzalia Valley Produce, Columbus, N.M., went shopping for traceback software to help protect his customers. He found nothing that fit his needs for urgency and his budget.

Johnson said customers and clients told him they expected Carzalia Valley Produce to be able to run a recall trace in 24 hours. That wasn’t good enough, he said.

“If you have a trace recall, you need to be able to do it in minutes, not 24 hours,” Johnson said. “When we need to know, we need to know right now.”

He asked for help from Deming, N.M.-based The Next Version LLC. The result is eProduce, a software program that Johnson said fits nearly every grower-shipper’s budget. He said eProduce, which was released in January, enables him to trace back to a crew, a day and a field in seconds.

An updated version of eProduce will be released by Aug. 1, said Scott DeNisco, vice president of North American sales and marketing for The Next Version. It offers new features and is designed to be compatible with radio-frequency identification technology, he said.

Johnson said the new version enables a grower-shipper to trace back to the picker. The software’s farm management feature’s database would enable Johnson to track each field and each crop for up to three years, he said, including what crops were grown on what fields and what chemicals were used.

To reinforce the company’s food safety commitment, Johnson said Carzalia Valley Produce hired Mabel Alleguin, a full-time safety inspector who oversees standards and secures independent audits of all its Columbus facilities, application registries and fields.