Food Safety at Lundberg Family Farms
How do we ensure the quality and safety of our rice and rice products at Lundberg Family Farms? Read on to discover how each grain of rice receives special care and attention during its journey from our field to your grocery store.
Above: We are committed to safety in all areas of farming and manufacturing.
Growing the Rice
Our commitment to safety and quality begins at ground level with resource management. Ever since Albert and Frances Lundberg started farming in California in 1937, we have strived to conserve our natural resources such as water and soil through responsible farming techniques. Even before our fields are planted, we make sure the soil is healthy through building nutrition and incorporating natural fertilizers. Our fields are nourished by water from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range which flows naturally to the fertile Sacramento Valley by way of the Feather River. This water is tested routinely by government agencies that monitor our farm’s water safety. Additionally, the regular cleaning and maintenance of our farm and trucking equipment ensures the quality of our rice during the planting, harvest, and transportation stages.
Today we practice precision farming, which aims to ensure quality and reduce waste through the use of innovative agriculture technologies, such as GPS systems, and attentive farming practices. After planting the rice, we check every field daily in order to determine each crop’s overall health. Factors such as plant color and leafing time tell us more about the health and quality of the rice plant. These daily observations, along with adjustments in water management and application of organic soil nutrients, ensure the health of our rice as it grows.
For more information about our Eco-Farmed and organic farming methods and pledge to sustainability, check out our Farming Practices page.
Above: A cluster of rice storage bins.
From Paddy Rice to Storage
After the rice is harvested from the fields, the tractors funnel rice into trucks that come into our dryer. During busy harvest time, we can get up to 84 loads every day, but we make sure that each truckload is traceable through a strict coding system that indicates the lot number, date of harvest and a variety code. These numbers will remain constant throughout the entire manufacturing process, ensuring that any grain of rice can be traced back to a few specific fields.
After rice from each truck is sampled and examined for moisture content, the rice is transferred into storage bins according to moisture level and variety. Each storage bin is monitored for temperature and moisture content to avoid grain breakage and ensure proper drying.
Above: The white color of these bins reflects the California sunshine, helping keep the rice cool during storage.
Mill Storage Facility: Polished to Perfection
After the rice is dried, it is moved to the mill. At the mill, the rice is transformed from a rough batch of grain into smooth, gleaming kernels. Once the rice is transported to the mill, it travels through a system of grain elevators and conveyer belts. Each load of rice receives a second cleaning, which separates weed seed and other fine particles from the rice. Then the rough outer hull is gently removed from the rice grain, and we are left with brown rice. If we want to mill the rice from brown to white, the brown rice is simply shuttled off to the polishing machine, which removes the bran layer and reveals the rice’s white, starchy interior—hence the term white rice.
After the milling process, each grain of rice is sifted through a color sorter. The color sorter uses a rapid-eye shutter camera, which takes thousands of pictures per second of the cascading grains, sorting each individual grain of rice according to specific color thresholds. Then the rice is distributed into different tanks before it is moved to the packaging facility.
Above: Outside the mill, two of our trucks wait patiently for more freshly-milled rice.
Packaging Rice: Into the Box
After the rice is cleaned and polished at the mill, it is moved downstairs to the packaging facility. Each load of rice is double-checked for its field lot number, harvest date, and variety. In the packaging facility, rice is funneled into bags and sealed. Just before rice rushes into bags, it passes through foreign material detection equipment, a critical control point in our food safety process. After the rice is packed in shelf-ready bags, each bag receives a ‘Best Before’ code, which communicates freshness and shelf-life to our consumers. This code also ensures that the exact journey of any particular Lundberg product can be retraced from shelf to field.
Above: At Dock 2 of the Lundberg Family Farms warehouse, we proudly display the American flag and a red sign saying "Food Safety Superior Rating 3 Years in a Row".
Additional Safety Procedures
At Lundberg, we take allergens seriously and follow a strict honesty policy when labeling products. Our product labeling will say “contains allergens,” but never “may contain allergens.” We adopted this straightforward policy to ensure your safety when selecting Lundberg products for your family and friends who may be prone to specific food allergies.
Our in-house cleaning policies assure that all products with allergens are appropriately processed and stored. Any item in our warehouse that contains allergens will be stored separately from products without allergens. Additionally, items that contain allergens will be specifically labeled to ensure that all employees take the safety and quality provisions necessary with these products.
Above: These small yet greatly important bins store the seed we use for planting next year's crop.
The quality and safety of our food is carefully monitored from our field to your grocery store. Our on-site quality assurance lab at Lundberg works to make sure each product meets the highest standards for quality and safety. Daily samples from all manufacturing stages and constant testing of these samples promote product consistency and safety. These on-site product inspections inform our entire growing and packaging processes. We keep detailed records of all our products from our Risottos to our Rice Cakes to our Bagged Rice, checking for moisture content and shape. Our Food Safety Inspection team conducts weekly audits of our facility to ensure all food safety and sanitation requirements are being met. We also contract an outside agency to conduct unannounced inspections annually.
Above: Our nursery's greenhouse maintains the purity of 17 different rice varieties
Seed Cultivation and GMO Policy
Saving good, clean seed for next year’s crop may be one of the most important parts of our harvest at Lundberg. Seed is taken from the harvest yield every year and prepared for the next year’s planting. After being taken from the field, the seed is cleaned—straw, weed seeds and other foreign material are sifted out and the seed is then dried and stored in separate seed bins according to variety. To check for additional purity in each load of seed, samples from every seed bin are taken and checked on-site, which lets us know our purity levels are constant. These samples are also sent to several outside labs, which perform additional checks to assure that our seed for each individual variety is clean and pure.
Our on-site nursery maintains seventeen different varieties of rice. At Lundberg, we do not support the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Through smart, attentive and natural farming practices, we have improved and maintained the quality of our seed which has allowed our company to grow and produce nutritious food for over seventy-five years.