Yum! Brands is a driving force in enhancing the safety of fresh produce from on-farm practices through processing and distribution to our restaurants. Approved fresh produce suppliers are required to comply with the produce specifications and Yum! Brands audit standards.
All pre-cut produce must be from approved sources, delivered and refrigerated, and protected from contamination.
Whole produce must also be from approved sources. However, in specific international markets where approved sources are not yet available, the restaurants must follow specified receiving and preparation practices as an alternative means of meeting the standard while approved sources are developed.
In the U.S., our Taco Bell brand is an industry leader on produce safety. To help further drive food safety enhancements in the produce supply chain, a Produce Safety Advisory Council was formed to advise our brands. The Council includes produce industry experts and premier academic experts in produce and food safety.
Working together, the Council has implemented the following in the U.S.:
- Training requirements for field inspectors who perform field risk assessments. The focus of the training is to identify risk and take actions to mitigate risk.
- Pre-planting inspections so that low-risk fields are used.
- Pre-harvest testing for EHEC, strains of E. coli that are capable of producing toxins, and Salmonella pathogens on leafy greens including iceberg lettuce, cilantro, romaine lettuce, spinach and cabbage and high resolution DNA testing on pre-processed tomatoes.
- Harvest crew audit training best practices.
- High resolution DNA testing on finished product lot-by-lot of fresh-cut produce.
- Significant wash water system improvements for fresh-cut produce as well as research into new, more effective methods of washing produce.
In collaboration with the United Fresh Produce Association and the produce industry, Taco Bell established standards for food safety compliance in the tomato supply chain as well as standardization of Good Agricultural Practices audits for all produce. Initiatives include:
- Tomato metrics and avoidance of co-mingling of tomato fields per lot
- Collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Multiple joint-produce safety meetings on best practices with industry leaders, including other major quick-service restaurants, retailers and distributors.
Additionally, Taco Bell also encourages Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in the growing of fresh produce. Suppliers of fresh produce are actively engaged with growers who apply IPM principles in the production of produce supplied to our brands.