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Food safety training helps make big sale

In Hood River Oregon, an opportunity for growth is serious business for the community.

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Fruit and gourmet gifts from
The Fruit Company®

The Fruit Company® in Hood River assembles and packages fruit and gourmet gift baskets from their warehouse for shipment across the United States and internationally. The company has been in business since 1942, employs 30 employees year round, and over 150 employees during their peak season.

They were presented with a great growth opportunity in 2009 from a major club store retailer that would agree to sell The Fruit Company's products on a national basis if the company developed and implemented an advanced food safety program. The retailer gave The Fruit Company a four-month deadline to implement the food safety program and have the program verified by a third-party auditor before the beginning of the busy holiday gift season.

Realizing they needed outside resources and expertise to help them develop and train their workforce in advanced food safety concepts in such a short time, The Fruit Company contacted their local WorkSource Oregon office.

The company found out they could utilize an Employer Workforce Training Fund (EWTF) grant to support an Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) project. The funding helped coach The Fruit Company staff through the development of a food safety program and trained them in advanced Food Safety principles.

The food safety program development and training included Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), Product Recall/Traceability, Supplier Assessment and Certification, Master Sanitation Scheduling (MSS), Master Maintenance Scheduling (MMS), Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP), Bio terrorism Preparedness and Response (Food Defense), and Document Control.

The program represented a $35.000 investment in workforce training. Once the program was implemented, the company successfully passed an official food safety audit from Primus Labs. This helped them retain employees, create five full-time and 50 part-time jobs, and increased sales by 12 percent.

"The WorkSource Oregon staff was a very helpful partner throughout the EWTF grant process," said Scott Webster, Owner and CEO The Fruit Company. "The grant enabled The Fruit Company to grow and add jobs during a down economy and build the infrastructure for even more anticipated company growth. "

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