Washington Fruit’s South facility, located at the front of the main complex in Yakima, Washington, is designed for optimum food safety and produce traceability. Built in 2010, this is still one of the highest tech packing facilities in the industry. All major varieties of apples are processed here. The building is designed with conduit and cabling running below the floor as well as flush mounted lights. This eliminates areas for dust collection and allows Washington Fruit to maintain one of the cleanest facilities in the industry. The equipment inside has been hand selected to provide very gentle fruit handling and also to deliver a consistent product day in and day out.
Computer controlled equipment handles the apples from beginning to end, leaving minimum variation to the finished product. A Compac 9000 color and defect sorting system uses four cameras to take nearly 40 images of each fruit. These images, both in color and infrared, are used to detect blemishes on the surface of the apple and separate them accordingly. These images are also used to grade the apples based on color and shape. In addition, near infrared technology performs non destructive sorting of the internal parts of the fruit. This technology can sort based on internal defects, sugar content, and even the pressure of the apple. Washington Fruit employees hand check each tray of fruit before placing them into their box.
Washington Fruit maintains an SQF 2000 Level III Certification for food safety and quality. In order to achieve this level the food processing facility is repeatedly analyzed for potential safety and quality hazards. Controls have been put in place to reduce potential hazards, and to maintain the safest work environment for food handling and processing.
To ensure the highest level of produce traceability, a unique serial number is stamped on all boxes packed. The robotic palletizing system uses these barcodes to sort by different grades, colors, sizes, and box type. This information is then stored with all the information about each specific box including which orchard the fruit came from, and the time it was packed. This system also tracks the location and shipping destination for each individual box.
The new facility, which has more than 250,000 sq ft, has wireless networking installed which is used by computers and scanners mounted on the forklifts to track the flow of boxes going through the storage and shipping dock. This network ensures that no fruit will be shipped that is not up to Washington Fruit’s Quality Control standards.
Boasting some of the world’s finest equipment, Washington Fruit and Produce Co.’s new food processing facility has been designed to optimize both food safety and quality. Computer controlled and operated equipment ensures consistent quality standards that are at the top of the industry. Integrated with wireless equipment and barcode scanning, Washington Fruit is a leader in produce traceability now, and will continue to be in the future.