Aurora, OR — Hazelnut Growers of Oregon (HGO), a business unit of farmer-owned cooperative Wilco Hazelnut LLC, has received a Safe Quality Food Level 3 (SQF3) certification for the fourth year in a row.
SQF3 is the highest rating of food safety a food manufacturer can receive. The increased stringency of the SQF has made achieving a Level 3 rating difficult according to Mark Clute, plant technical services manager.
Following strict guidelines, the processing plant segregates pasteurized and unpasteurized products; uses color codes to clearly identify each station; ensures rules are followed depending on where and who you are in the warehouse, down to the color of smock worn by visitors; features a clean-room design and marked walk paths; and uses dry cleaning and positive air pressure systems in order to offer the highest level of sanitation.
HGO President Gerry Watts notes that he was impressed with how the HGO team continues to meet the SQF3 standards. “This accomplishment of meeting SQF3 for four years speaks volumes about our team,” he says. “They are very knowledgeable about the modern quality control protocols and processes required for operating a food manufacturing operation such as this. We are changing the dynamics of the hazelnut industry with our focus on quality and competing in our U.S. national market as a supplier of specialty retail, foodservice and Ingredient products.”