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Serck leads with food-safety efforts

CHICAGO — Food-safety assurance procedures are important to Steve Serck, a leading wholesaler on the Chicago International Produce Market and a board member of the Wholesaler-Distributor Board of the United Fresh Produce Association. At the market, Serck is president of JAB Produce, Jack Keller Co. and SAS Cartage LLC and acts as treasurer on the Chicago International Market Board of Directors.

Food-safety measures “are not a requirement yet by anybody,” he said. “But if someone gets sick” from food coming from the terminal market “it will hurt everybody.”

His companies have been USDA-GAP approved for two years, and by the end of the year he expects to have completed work toward a PrimusGFS certification.

According to the Primus website, “PrimusGFS is a private scheme that establishes requirements for the certification of products of the agricultural sector in a voluntary manner at a world-wide level.”

Serck credits Strube Celery & Vegetable Co. as being the Chicago wholesaler that already has the PrimusGFS rating. Out of a variety of food-safety auditors, Serck chose to engage with Primus because “they are the most-recognized so far.”

In the future, “I definitely see this being a big deal. It’s slow to happen but it will happen” in one form or another.

Serck credits the U.S. Food & Drug Administration with talking to the produce industry so as to avoid over-regulating in the future. “We feel we can regulate ourselves.” With that, he credits United Fresh with “doing a great job of being involved.”