John Gurrisi, R.E.H.S., is Vice President of Food Safety and Quality (FSQ) at Fresh Express. He has broad food safety responsibility for growing, manufacturing, new product assessment, customer collaboration, supplier management, and regulatory compliance. He leads a multidisciplinary food safety and quality team covering the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and directs a multimillion-dollar implementation and investment budget.

John holds numerous industry-critical food safety certifications and has contributed his technical expertise to wide-ranging industry initiatives. He serves as an active contributor to the Center for Produce Safety’s Technical Committee and the International Fresh Produce Association’s Food Safety Council and is past Vice Chair and Executive Board Member of the Conference for Food Protection.

Prior to joining Fresh Express, John led global fresh produce food safety and quality initiatives for Darden Restaurants, a premier full-service dining company with over 1,800 locations worldwide.

German Rios is the Senior Director of FSQ for Fresh Express. He is responsible for food safety and quality assurance in growing, manufacturing, new product development, and customer collaboration. From a food safety standpoint, he manages the Fresh Express raw partner product program and ingredient suppliers, encompassing the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. In addition, German guides Fresh Express raw product suppliers on an ongoing basis, and leads the Fresh Express raw product growing and harvesting strategy in Central Mexico.

German graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Crop Science degree. Throughout his career, German has had the opportunity to work in many different segments of the Fresh Express salad business including manufacturing, research and development, and agricultural operations.

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In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak with John and German [18:37] about:

  • The various technical verification activities conducted by Fresh Express to ensure that food safety standards are upheld by growers that are partnered with the company
  • Fresh Express’ video series that highlights the company’s food safety initiatives, such as continuous education and training for employees
  • How Fresh Express embodies FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety by using technology to enable traceability and monitor its food safety procedures
  • Ways in which Fresh Express continuously adapts its HACCP plans, and how the company communicates HACCP knowledge to employees by making sure food safety is always “on the agenda” for discussion
  • The history of how Fresh Express became one of the first companies to create an FSQ program for produce crops, and how it has evolved over time to consider emerging hazards such as Cyclospora
  • The complex inner workings of Fresh Express’ traceability system, which uses scanners and radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging to provide real-time information about all raw materials used in the company’s products
  • How Fresh Express ensures microbial food safety through hygienic design and environmental monitoring at its Morrow, Georgia facility
  • How Fresh Express’ sampling and testing activities for growers have prepared the company to comply with FDA’s revised agricultural water requirements under the Produce Safety Rule.

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