AIB and Food Safety – April 14
Author: Eric Williams
“Cleanliness is very important. If you let kids make a total mess in the kitchen and then leave, you’re not really teaching them anything.”
– Chef Emeril Lagasse
In the food banking world, nothing is more important than cleanliness. The people who donate food to Second Harvest expect us to treat it with great care, and those who receive food through our partners count on it being clean and safe.
It’s something that’s at the forefront of our minds every workday. Moreover, each year we undergo in-depth, on-site audits, and cleanliness underpins whether we receive passing grades. The audits are conducted by AIB International, the leading food safety organization in the world, headquartered at Kansas State University.
Any AIB score above 90% is considered stellar, and this year all three of our facilities—our Pasco Distribution Center, the Spokane Distribution Center and the Wolff Family Child Hunger Solution Center—all graded higher than 95%.
“We were one of the first food banks in the nation to be certified by AIB International,” said Jason Clark, president and CEO of Second Harvest. “For us, it’s not just a matter of getting a passing grade, but rather a safety-first mindset year-round.”
The audits cover the waterfront of factors that go into food safety, from the basics such as hand-washing facilities and pest-control systems, to the complex aspects of a robust Vulnerability Assessment, used to “identify and reduce the risk of intentional harm to the facility, its personnel and food products.”
Another aspect, of course, is that our facilities are clean, including our sort rooms, the locations where volunteers and staff sort donated food; for example, when we receive a semitruck load of potatoes, onions or apples, we sort out any that are not fit for human consumption, and put the good ones into smaller, family-sized packages.
Every month, a crew from Artisans comes to our Spokane facility to deep clean the sorting area. Artisans is “a nonprofit agency providing services necessary for individual job development, employment support and employment opportunities in the community for persons with disabilities.” They scrub everything down, and clean every cranny a tiny bug may tread, and when they’re done the room veritably shines.
“We value our long-standing partnership with Second Harvest and are proud that our crew’s efforts help maintain high food safety standards in their facility,” said Artisans Chief Operating Officer Mary Ravenna.
Second Harvest’s cleanliness guru is Jaime Ordway—actually her duties are a bit broader, as she’s in charge of food safety and leads our team’s preparation for the AIB audits. “I’m always inspired by the teamwork here at Second Harvest, and the genuine care my colleagues and our volunteers bring to work every day,” Ordway said. “That’s a big reason we aced the audits again this year. But more importantly, it’s an assurance that the food that goes out our doors is nourishing and safe.”