(July 12) Perhaps there’s no fool-proof solution to the problems that led to the bribery scandal that brought the Hunts Point Terminal Market virtually to its knees several years ago.

The corruption that the government uncovered in 1999 involved only a relative handful of produce firms, employees and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors on the market and lowered a pall of doubt upon businesses that depend on trust for their very survival.

So it is heartening to know that the USDA has taken concrete steps to minimize the chance that such a situation will revisit any terminal produce market.

The agency is rolling out a new computer-based system that brings all information on a variety of commodities into a centralized database, which all field inspectors can access on laptop units they carry to inspection sites. All data entered into the system is open to all parties and is not subject to individual tampering.

The USDA has spent about $1.5 million on the automated inspection system over the past two years and hopes to have it operational in all 37 of its field inspection offices by the end of the year. The system is up and running in three offices. Inspectors have said the system makes inspections quicker and easier and takes the possibility of human error out of their hands.

It has taken some time to come up with a system that works, but it appears to have been time — and money — well spent.

“We’ve been wanting to put together an automated system like this for a long time,” said Leanne Skelton, chief of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Fresh Products Branch.

Trust is the foundation of the produce industry. Consumers expect a safe, fresh product that has been handled with meticulousness from field to table. Suppliers have to have every conceivable safeguard in place. Inspectors, as the final hands of the government in the supply chain, are bound to ensure that every order that arrives at the market meets all specifications for quality, size and price agreed to by buyer and seller.

The wheels of government, it is said, grind slowly. But, as the new automated inspection system seems to show, with a little patience and a lot of thought, even government can come up with solutions that help everyone.