Knowing Your Roots

Potato FieldAs summer wears on and the potatoes continue to develop below the soil, the farmers in the central sands area of Wisconsin are already starting to think about when they will be able to dig their potatoes. With another harvesting season fast approaching, a topic that should always be at the forefront of the minds of growers and packers alike is safe product handling. A lot of care is taken with our potatoes at Okray Family Farms from the moment they are removed from the ground to when they leave our facility, and beyond.

Harvesters are equipped with belts and chains that remove the potatoes from the ground and gently agitate them, removing as much soil as possible while simultaneously taking care not to ever drop them more than a few inches, which could lead to undesirable bruising. All harvesters and potato hauling trucks are on a scheduled maintenance and cleaning program, and are inspected daily before operations begin to be sure the machines will in no way pose a threat to the safety of the potatoes. From the field, they are moved by conveyors into covered trucks and sent to the packing facility.

Once they reach their destination, the potatoes are gently rolled off the trucks and down into clean, recycled wash water to help remove any remaining soil. Up another set of washers and then down into heated, forced air dryers, the potatoes have yet to be touched by human hands, which helps to decrease the risk of pathogens that the product might be exposed to. When they do come into contact with our human graders to be sorted for size, shape, and defects, we further reduce the risk of contamination through extensive employee training and rules and regulations that require employees to wear gloves when handling product and regular hand-washing procedures.

Finally, after the potatoes have been graded, sorted, and mechanically packaged, they are kept in temperature and humidity controlled coolers, which keeps them cool, dark, and happy until they are ready to be shipped out to grocery stores across the country. Even the trailers that our potatoes get loaded on have to be inspected for cleanliness before they are approved to carry our product.

From start to finish, we take every care to make sure that the end product we are delivering to our customers is as safe as it can possibly be. Just one more way that Wisconsin growers are providing reliable, delicious potatoes to American families.

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