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March 6, 2009

Tracing Your Produce

Food poisoning is a big scare for a lot of people. Earlier this year there was a wide spread peanut recall nationally. Wegmans has recalled 58 items so far this year. In all of 2008, they only had 46 recalls. But now there are new ways for customers to feel comfortable about the food they buy.

The produce section in the Pittsford Wegmans is a busy place. "We do a lot of our fresh produce shopping here because everything's really fresh," said Candice Baler Leit, Brighton.

This time of year everyone wants to get their hands on fresh berries. But a lot of them aren't grown here. "There are items we have to buy from the West Coast and from different parts of the country so people want to know where specifically that produce is being grown," said Paul Stuart, Wegmans Senior Produce Manager.

Driscoll now has a way customers can find out where their berries are coming from. You log onto their website and then click on trace my berries. Then enter the sixteen digit bar code found on the bottom of the package. "It's live time. It's very quick. It's very fast. It's an easy communication other than reading a newspaper," said Stuart.

Customers want to be connected to growers across the country. "Technology is now catching up where you can identify the growers in the field, (you can learn) about the grower, where it's grown, how it's grown what pesticides they use," said Stuart.

Coming this fall to a Wegmans store there will be a Driscoll kiosk where customers can swipe their berries before they buy. You can see the health benefits of the berries. Eventually you'll be able to trace them. It's a technology Wegmans is testing to make eating safe for everyone. "If there's a recall we can minimize it rather quickly. Okay what farm was it? Where did that farm ship to and we can identify it really quickly to get it out of the system," said Stuart.

Customers are looking forward to using the kiosk. "Oh that's great! That's very interesting! I like to know where my food comes from and how healthy it really is to eat," said Rhonda Morse.

Wegmans expects other produce companies to come on board. A watermelon grower is next to come online. The kiosk will be at the Penfield Wegmans store. It's expected to be set up around Labor Day. To trace your Driscoll berries, click here.