Produce Inspections for Regulators Virtual Produce Tour

Produce Inspections for Regulators Virtual Produce Tour


[ Music ]>>Welcome. This instructional video
provides a virtual tour of a produce farm with a focus on conducting regulatory
produce inspections. Throughout this video, you’ll
hear from Kevin Gerrity, an FDA National Food Expert.>>Hi, my name is Kevin Gerrity. I’m a national expert
with the FDA Office of Food and Feed Operations. I’ve been with the
agency about 25 years. I was hired as a
chemist originally. But I’ve always worked
with foods, always been with the Office of Regulatory Affairs
which we call ORA. I’m here today to talk to
you about farm inspections under the new produce
rule, and the priorities of farm inspection,
and how they operate. There’s going to be
differences between farms. It’s– We have one regulation
but we have different ways of operating farms by
region, by commodity. Everything is different. You’ve seen one farm,
you’ve seen one farm. You cannot assume that
that farm is going to be the same every
time you go out. And so we have to
recognize that and leave that flexibility even though
we have a single regulation.>>You’ll also hear
from Armando Figueroa, the Food Safety Regulatory
Compliance Manager for Braga Fresh Family
Farms, a large farm operation in California, and
Mike Villaneva, the Technical Director for
the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement.>>Good morning. I’m Mike Villaneva. I’m the Technical Director for the California Leafy
Green Marketing Agreement. And with me here is
Armando Figueroa. He is the Food Safety and
Manager for Braga Farms. Armando, tell me a
little about what you do as a food safety manager?>>Oh, OK. Well, I oversee and manage
the whole food safety program for the farm and also the
harvesting for the company. So, I do a lot of
interactions with the employees for the farming and also from
the harvesting, training– conducting trainings, and
just monitoring and, you know, doing visual inspections.>>In this video, you’ll
see a suggested approach to assessing a farm’s compliance with the FDA Produce Safety
Rule, providing regulations for the growing, harvesting,
packing, and holding of produce for human consumption. The initial interview
marks the official start to the inspection. If you make a pre-inspection
call with the farm, you will have to determine
the time and place to meet with someone from the farm to
conduct the initial interview. The initial interview may take
place on the farm or nearby at an easy-to-reach location
such as a coffee shop due to the fact that not all farms
have straightforward addresses and you may have to be
led or driven to the farm to start your inspection.>>Produce safety
inspections would be different from routine food inspections
that the FDA performs. We can’t assume that we’re going
to arrive to a certain location and that’s going to be an
active farm every year. The fields change
from year to year. And we’re also going to work
with the farmers to help work around their schedules, to
help build those professional relationships we need to
build because we haven’t have that interaction with
the farmers in the past.>>To begin the initial
interview, present your credentials
or identification and issue the notice of
inspection or agency equivalent, then you’ll discuss with the
farm representative what you want to inspect and how
you want to inspect it.>>We’ll talk a little
about the structure of these farm inspections. The inspection is going to be
based upon the produce rule. And so we’re going to structure
the inspections around the rule. We’re going to look in to see
that the farmers are complying with the requirements
of the rule in terms of employee training, of
monitoring their water quality to ensure it meets the
requirements for their farm, of if they’re using
biological soil amendments to be sure they’re
using those properly so that it does not
contaminate the produce, and what they’re doing to ensure that food context
services are maintain in a clean and sanitary manner.>>You’ll also want to ask
the farm representative about their visitor policy. If they have a policy in
writing, ask to see a copy.>>Whenever we have,
say, a visitor over, they have to first
check in to the office. Once they check in to the
officer, they’re told the rules that they have to follow. And the rules that they have
to follow are very identical to if they were even
an employee, say, they’re harvesting
products for us. They have to obviously
not wear any jewelry. They have to wear a hairnet. Before entering the field, they have to wash their
hands with soap and water. And then if they want to touch
product, obviously, wear gloves. They’re not allowed
to wear any type of– anything that could put
the crop on jeopardy. Obviously, they get
inspected before they get in. The same thing, they’re
not allowed to take any product home. So, those are the
rules we implement.>>Throughout your inspection, evaluate the farm’s
implementation of the visitor policy
to determine if the farm is enforcing food
safety procedures and practices. If the farm does not have a
formalized visitor policy, observe how they interact with
other visitors to the farm. In addition to discussing the
structure of the inspection and the visitor policy, you’ll
also discuss any follow-ups from previous inspections. If there were areas
for improvement, ask what the farm did to correct
the conditions and plan for them to show you their corrections
during the inspection. At this time, you can
also let the farm know of any records you wish to
review later so they have time to compile them while
you’re out walking the farm. If the farm has a map of its
property, you may want to ask for a copy to include in
your inspection report. If the farm is not able to
provide a map, sketch the layout as you inspect the farm and
record the GPS coordinates of fields, structures,
and features so you can create
a diagram later. The diagram should
include the fields, water distribution system,
sanitary facilities, storage buildings, and
any other structures or features on the farm. Your evaluation of the farm
environment begins even before you start the inspection,
as you take note of the area surrounding the farm and how the adjacent
land is used. Once you start the
inspection, you’ll want to walk or drive the farm’s perimeter
looking for any possible sources and routes of contamination
of the produce. If the farm is located near
a hill or a body of water, look for possible runoff routes
that may lead to the farm. If the farm is located near
any established structures, walk the areas of the
farm near structures to determine their
usage and determine if there’s any potential
for contamination. These areas may harbor pests that can easily make
their way on to the farm. Also look for any drainage
with access to the farm. If the farm is adjacent
to a smaller structure such as a barn, ask questions
about how the structure is used. Is it storing something,
and if so, what? If it’s empty, is it secured? Is it harboring any wildlife? Walk the perimeter, looking
for any areas of concern. If there’s a private property
such as a house located on or near the farm, ask questions to determine possible
routes of contamination. What type of sewage
system is the house using? Are there children or
pets living in the house? Do they have access
to the fields? Ask permission to do a
tour around the property but be mindful of
the owner’s privacy.>>When we’re on farms, some
of the things that are going to be different from a routine
food inspection will be what we run into in the farm, the use of
adjacent land or even land upon that farm we may find private
residences on the farm, and how we have to
be very careful in how we approach those. We have to recognize,
this is a person’s home. You don’t want to enter a
person’s private home unless you absolutely need to. Types of reasons we may need
to talk to these people, for instance, if we will need to
know about their septic system, do they have a leach system or
a septic tank, where is that, how is it maintained, if
that may have an effect on the safety of our farm. Those are the types of a
thing we may need to know and that’s why we may need to contact these
people on the farm.>>Farms that are situated near
residential developments are especially susceptible
to contamination whether from sewage, garbage,
or illegal dumping. Inspect the area to look for any
signs of possible contamination and talk to the farm
representative about the security
measures in place.>>On a ranch, you’ll
sometimes get people fascinated with what’s growing. So, that’s another thing. Our employees are aware if
there’s anybody that is– doesn’t look to be, you
know, hey, who is this person or who are they,
what are they doing? You know, they can put
the crop in jeopardy. So, we don’t know
where they’ve been. We don’t want them to handle
a crop that we’re growing to the public that’s
going to, you know, put the crop in danger. So, they– you know, if we see
something abnormal, we go out and tell that person or that
individual to just, you know, hey, you’re not– you
don’t belong here. I’m sorry but you got
to be escorted out.>>Effective employee
training is a key part of developing a good
food safety culture. Farm workers who handle produce or food contact services are
required to complete training on both their assigned
responsibilities and the importance of health
and hygiene on the farm. Effective training covers
all applicable requirements and is presented in a manner that workers are
going to understand.>>Training, that’s very
critical and very important here in this company and also just
in the industry as a whole. We see training as vital
and crucial that is one of another one vehicles of a
potential cross contamination if things are not handled right. So, all of our employees are
trained before they even start the season as an employee. So, we– they go to numerous
about four hours of training that they have to conduct. And during that training,
there’s a lot of different illustrations
and visual and, you know, talk about the rules
and the policies but also just coaching them
of what to do in the event that something happens, kind
of give you the illustrations on different scenarios that
could happen and what to do. The more important thing is
just the communication part. That’s very critical because
there are eyes and ears out there in the field. You know, I’m not
everywhere at once so having them also
understanding what the importance of food
safety is very crucial.>>During your inspection,
review the training program and look at the training
records. If observed employee
practices indicate deficiencies that should be addressed in
an effective training program, review the materials to ensure
that the regulations are covered and that language and literacy
considerations are in place. Remember that there is
also specific required harvester training. If you determine that the
training isn’t being presented in a manner that is
appropriate for the workforce, discuss the inadequacies
with the training supervisor. You may also cite
training deficiencies on your inspectional
observational form, especially if you observe
inappropriate employee practices that are a result of employees
receiving inadequate training. Effective employee
training leads to proper employee practices. Throughout your inspection, observe employees during
covered activities, looking for any practices that
can introduce contamination to the produce and/or
food surface areas. Pay special attention to
employee practices when, entering and exiting
the farm areas, handling produce and/or food
contact surfaces, using toilet and handwashing facilities. Employees must also adhere
to hygienic practices and maintain general
personal cleanliness. Clothing, footwear, personal
protective equipment or PPE, for example, aprons or gloves or any other garments worn
while handling produce or performing covered activities
should remain in good repair. During the inspection, ask
the farm about practices to prevent employees from
bringing contamination onto the farm and
moving contamination from one area to another. Employees, who handle produce
or food contact services with their hands, must wash
hands thoroughly to prevent them from becoming a source
of contamination. Employees must not eat or use
chewing gum or tobacco products. Does the farm have a
policy for ill workers? Determine how the
farm handles employees that report an illness. Employees must be
instructed to report symptoms of illness to a supervisor. Proper availability,
design and usage of toilet and handwashing facilities
is essential to keeping foodborne
illnesses at bay. In the US, accessibility of toilets must follow
OSHA requirements. Farm workers must have easy
access to sanitary facilities.>>The food regulation requires that growers provide
their employees with restrooms while
they’re working on the farm. I– When you would provide
employees with restrooms is when you’re planning,
when you’re weeding, when you’re harvesting,
whenever you have field workers out in the field, you
provide those toilets to those fieldworkers. And we’ll inspect those
toilets to make sure they’re in sanitary condition in term
of how many toilets you have to provide per how many
employees you have, how far away they have to be. Those specific rules were
actually under OSHA regulations, but we just take a generalized
approach where the toilets need to be accessible
by your employees, no more than a five minute
walk, say, a half mile or less. So, they have to be able
to get to those toilets.>>When inspecting sanitary
facilities, you should asses if the toilet is designed,
located, and maintained to prevent contamination. The first thing you want to
look for is proper design. Determine if toilets are
maintained in good repair or show evidence of
disrepair like a leak. Design elements such as
self-closing doors may have to keep toilet facility
waste contained. If the farm uses portable
toilets that are moved as the crew moves through
the field, check to see that there is no leakage from
the unit when it is moved. The next thing you want to inspect is proper
maintenance of the entire unit. This includes a clean,
sanitary condition, available toilet paper,
and regular waste removal. Check the internal service
sticker dates if available to ensure that the units are
being serviced regularly. Every toilet must be accompanied by a handwashing station
in close proximity. During your inspection, confirm that handwashing stations are
available, that there sourced with clean water, and that soap
and hand towels are stocked. Also confirm that the used
water is captured as opposed to falling to the ground. A waste bin must be provided
to collect used towels. Preferably, waste
bin should have a lid or be otherwise designed
to prevent used towels from blowing into the fields. Most importantly, confirm that employees are washing
their hands with soap and water after using the toilets. Hand sanitizers are
not a substitute for washing with soap and water. While there is no
requirement to do so, many farms will create a
buffer zone around toilets and handwashing stations
to protect against potential
contamination to the crops.>>When we have porta potties on
a farm as farmers are required to provide restrooms to
their employees, it becomes– it creates a potential
contamination source on that farm. So we’re going to look
those porta potties. We’re going to look at
design standards to make sure that they’re designed properly
that they’re not going to leak. Another thing we’re going
to look for in terms of the porta potties is a lot of farms will actually move
the porta potties offsite to pump them out, rather than have the sewage
truck come onsite. Either way, we’re going to look to see how they maintain
those toilets. If the sewage truck is coming
on site, we’re going to look to make sure that
they have practices that will prevent
the contamination of the crop with feces. If they’re pulling those
porta potties offsite to pump them out,
we’re going to look to make sure those porta potties
arent’ going to splash and leak on the farm as they’re
being driven off to that offsite location. So, just having the porta
potties on the farm, while that is a food
safety improvement, also creates another
food safety issue that you have to deal with.>>If the farm has not
provided adequate toilets for their employees, search
the perimeter of the farm for private areas that employees
may be using as a bathroom such as bushes or ditches. If you find such areas
being used as bathrooms, point it out to the farm
representative and educate them on the food safety
hazard creative by not providing adequate
restrooms for their employees. Prior to the establishment of
industry food safety standards, farmlands were typically
accessible to the public. People could often
be seen riding horses or walking dogs along
the fields. Today, farms most safeguard
against animal intrusion to ensure that their fields are
not being contaminated while being sensitive to environmental
and species concerns. This applies to wild
animals and animals that are on the farm both
working and livestock.>>Understanding
your environment and your surrounding
is very crucial. One of the things we do is,
you know, think about, OK, what kind of mitigations can we
implement, one being fencing, one being buffers,
ditches, barriers– those are the types of
barriers that we, you know, we always kind of– the
norms that we implement, signs as well, you know,
written signs for– to tell people that they’re
not allowed is very crucial. Like the animal intrusion part,
that– going back to training, you know, we could implement
fencing all over the ranch but it doesn’t keep
all animals away. The more– more importantly
is going back in to training the people. You know, they’re
our eyes and ears. They– If they see anything,
you know, down fencing or animals coming in from
a section, they report it, you know, to for example
to myself and we, you know, take action on the situation.>>When you’re inspecting the
farm grounds, look for any signs of possible intrusion. For instance, while there
is no regulation stating that farms must have
fencing, a broken or incomplete fence may be
a sign of animal intrusion. The presence of animal
tracks, feces, or damage crops are
also signs of intrusion. While animals are a natural
part of the farm environment, it is important that farms
monitor animal intrusion and take appropriate steps
to prevent the harvest of contaminated produce. Fences are often used to
prevent larger animals from accessing the farm
while netting buried under and PVC traps are options
for stopping rodents. Physical barriers
are not required. Birds on the farm are
another possible source of animal intrusion
and can carry pathogens but they’re not as
easily deterred. Some common deterrents
are noise makers, Mylar strips and scarecrows. Prior to every harvest,
farms are required to perform an assessment to
determine if there are any areas that may have become
contaminated by wild or domestic animals. Farms typically will
monitor continually for intrusion throughout their
growing and harvesting season. The presence of animals
does not automatically mean that crops have been
contaminated. However, if contamination
is apparent, farms should implement
corrective actions in the effected area
such as identifying and removing the contaminant. The farm may also choose
to set up buffer zones to indicate areas where
produce should not be harvested.>>Before we get into
the field, what– there’s got to be some issues
and concerns that you– that are part of your
food safety program. Can you elaborate a little
bit about what happens in those circumstances?>>Yeah. So, some of the mitigations we have
before we enter a field every day is our foremans [phonetic]. There are– They
inspect the ranch on a daily basis
before they even enter and harvest for the day. What they do is they inspect the
perimeters, making sure there’s, you know, no abnormal issues that would put the
crop in danger.>>During the inspection,
walk around the farm to see if there’s evidence
of animal intrusion. Farms located near bodies
of water or wooded areas where animals are likely to be found may be
especially susceptible. Ask the farm representative about the steps the
farm is taking to identify animal intrusion
and how the farm responds when evidence of the
animal intrusion is found, including how the
farm addresses produce that may be contaminated. Agricultural water means water
used in covered activities on covered produced where water
is intended to or is likely to contact cover produce
or food contact surfaces. This includes water
used for irrigation, water used for preparing crop
sprays, water used for washing or cooling harvested
produce, and water used for preventing dehydration
of covered produce. Water touches nearly
every part of the farm from irrigating fields to
cooling harvested crops to handwashing stations. If the water touches covered
crops and/or food contact surfaces, care must be
taken to prevent the water from becoming a food
safety concern. Confirming proper use of
water on the farm will make up a large part of
your inspection. Water distribution systems
use three types of water, ground water such as
water from a well, surface water and
municipal water. When inspecting ground water,
start by inspecting the wells. The first thing you want to look at is the general
condition of the well. Is the well in good shape? Is the pad cracked? Are the seals complete? Is water gathering near
the opening of the well? Next, you want to check that there a backflow
prevention devices in place.>>We’ll talk a little bit
about agricultural water and specifically
about well water. When we look at well water, we want to protect those
wells from contamination. And the types of things
we’re going to look for is that the well is properly
sealed and grouted, and also that you don’t have
any potential cross connections to that well. The most common cross
connection we find on water systems including wells
is going to be the common hose. A hose connected to your well
can actually connect your well to soil water, if you
have puddled water, that water is contaminated. And if you had backflow
event from that well, water dropped back down,
it could suck that water through that hose in your well
and contaminate your well. So if you do have connections
to your well such as hoses, we’re going to look for
backflow prevention devices or backflow prevention
techniques such as keeping those
hoses up off of the ground and that type of control.>>If the well is
in good condition and no issues are
observed, your inspection of the well should only
take a few minutes. The second type of water, surface water has different
food safety concerns than groundwater. If groundwater is transferred
to a container exposed to the environment such as
holding ponds, open tanks and reservoirs, it
becomes surface water. Surface water containers maybe
raised above ground level to eliminate the chance of
runoff contaminating the water. When inspecting surface water
examine the area to determine if the farm is keeping the
water safe from contamination. Surface water should
be protected against animal intrusion. Animals are attracted
to water and will go to great lengths to reach it. Walk the entire perimeter of
the reservoir looking for signs of intrusion such as broken
fencing, feces, or prints. Birds are potential element of
surface water contamination. One common practice
that farmers have used to protect reservoir water
from contamination is to trim or remove trees overhanging
surface water to minimize the possibility of roosting birds
contaminating the water. Inspecting agricultural
water doesn’t stop at wells and reservoirs. Growing, harvesting, cooling, and packing are covered
activities that are all either directly or
indirectly affected by water. As your inspection continues
evaluate the water distribution at each step and ask questions
about the water source. A soil amendment is a material
that is intentionally added to the soil to improve its
chemical or physical condition for growing plants or to improve
its capacity to hold water. A biological soil amendment
is a soil amendment containing biological materials, such as
stabilized compost, manure, non-fecal animal byproducts,
yard trimmings, et cetera. The produce safety rule
establishes criteria for the application of treated and untreated biological soil
amendments of animal origin. During your inspection,
determine the use of biological soil
amendments of animal origin and evaluate their
treatment and application.>>It’s fairly common
for our farmers to use biological soil
amendments for nutrients in their field and one of the more common
ones would be manure. The concerns with the use
of manure in the field of course are going
to be pathogens. We want to make sure that
the soil amendment has been composted or otherwise treated
to minimize the potential for pathogens to
contaminate your crop. We also want to make
sure you apply that biological soil amendment
in a manner that’s going to minimize the potential for
the contamination of your crop. Now you can use untreated or uncomposted biological
soil amendments and then utilize a time interval
before planting their crop.>>Ask to see biological
soil amendments of animal origin records
and determine the dates of application in relation to
the growing cycle to ensure that the produce safety rule
requirements are being followed. During the growing season,
the earliest human interaction with the crops is typically
during transplanting and weeding. Some farms use herbicides to control weeds while others
use manual weeding crews. When weeding crews
are in the fields, your focus as an inspector
is on the employee practices and tools, with particular
attention to health and hygiene. Farm worker should be
dressed in clean clothing and appropriate footwear. Pesticides may also be used
during the growing season. While pesticides and herbicides
are regulated by the EPA, they are often diluted with
water before application. If this solution comes in
contact with a covered crop, then the water would fall
under the produce safety rule.>>Chemical use is
fairly common on farms. We find chemicals
used as pesticides as well as fertilizers. Under the produce safety rule,
we do not regulate pesticides or fertilizers but
we do have concerns under the produce safety
rule in terms of the safety of those pesticides and
fertilizers and it’s centered on the water that is
used to dilute them. We need to know that
the water that is used to dilute any chemicals
used on the crop is of appropriate sanitary
quality for that crop.>>Ask questions about the water
source used to dilute chemicals and determine if the distribution system
is being properly used and maintained. Harvesting and packing can
introduce many possible sources of contamination to the crops,
including machinery, tools, packing crates, and the
employees themselves. Harvesting can be done
manually or with a machine, also known as automated. If the farm you’re inspecting
is using machines to harvest, your inspectional focus
should be on the design of the machines, the
maintenance of the machines, and the employee practices.>>All of our harvest machines
are clean and sanitized daily. And it’s just very important
to do that specifically because we handle
raw commodities. All of our equipment at the
end of the day gets staged at a yard on the ranch. And we have a crew, a designated
crew that is properly trained to clean and sanitize the
equipment so they’ll go after the harvest is done and
first clean all the product and then properly
sanitize the equipment and get it ready
for the next day.>>During the inspection,
observe the construction, design, or maintenance of
any tools and equipment that may come into contact with
food or food contact surfaces. How are they cleaned and
sanitized before use? Where are they stored
when they’re not in use? Where and when are they cleaned? Determine if the
design and installation of all equipment permits access to food contact surfaces
for cleaning. Manual harvesting puts
a stronger emphasis on proper employee practices. If the farm you’re inspecting
is harvesting manually, observe the employees to ensure that they’re following
proper personnel and food hygiene protocols
to prevent contamination when handling produce and
food contact surfaces. Look at the whole system to
determine what might come into contact with the produce and if they’re maintaining
proper practices.>>On farms, you’ll find a
variety of harvest equipment from handheld knives to
automated harvesters. But from the food
safety point of view, the concern is the same. It’s maintaining that
food contact surfaces in a sanitary manner. And so when we go out
and do a farm inspection, that’s one of the things
we’re going to focus on during harvest is how
do they maintain those food contact surfaces? What do they do with
those handheld knives when they’re on break? How do they keep that automated
harvester clean and sanitary? And then also, when we’d
look at the equipment that they’re using
during a harvest, we may have to look outside
the food contact surfaces. There may be framework that
can have grippage down on to our food contact surfaces
so we’re going to have to catch that as well.>>Another area of emphasis when inspecting employee harvest
practices is the treatment of their handheld tools. Anything that comes in
contact with the crop as it’s harvested should
be cleaned and sanitized as necessary and appropriate.>>When it comes to handheld
tools, what we don’t want to see is employees taking
the tools in the ground in between uses or
whether on break. We want to see that the
farm has the system in place where the employees are
trained where to put their tools when they’re not in use. What we don’t want to see is
people taking their knives on break with them
to their meal, having their harvest tool
while they’re eating their meal or laying it on the ground
while they’re eating their meal. We want to make sure
it is maintained in a clean and sanitary manner.>>Once produce is harvested,
it is packed for shipping. Farms can pack either
in the field or may use a packing house. Different considerations apply when evaluating the field
packing or packing house. During packing, the
farm must take care that the produce is
not contaminated. This means the workers
must appropriately trained and the equipment and tools
must be appropriately cleaned and sanitized. Harvest and packing containers
are another possible route of contamination. During your inspection, ask to
see where the farm stores bins, crates or any other materials
that might come in contact with the harvested crop.>>We saw different kinds of
packing operations in the field. Clearly everything is
packed in the field here. Tell me a little bit about
how all that unfolds as far as containers and such.>>Sure. So, as you
saw after the field, we deal with cardboard boxes
but also reusable containers. Whether it be cardboard,
boxes or reusable containers, the individuals that actually
pick up the containers and take them to the
harvest crew, they’re trained to inspect those
containers or cartons. And if there’s anything
that looks abnormal, they’ll put those containers
or cartons to the side. And if it’s a whole palette,
they have to put it to the side and call the supplier and
tell them to pick it up and either they’re going
to dump it or they’re going to resanitize and clean
them because we don’t want to use anything that looks
suspicious that’s going to put the crop in jeopardy.>>Packing containers
must be clean in sanitary. Containers that are stored
outside should be covered and protected from
birds, dust, and rain.>>Under the produce safety
rule, any food contact surface, any surface that the crop
comes in contact with has to be maintained and
cleaned in a sanitary manner. And this is going to
include harvest containers such as harvest baskets
and such. It’s very common to
find harvest containers that are used multiple
times in multiple seasons. They may even be stored
outside in between uses. This is all going to
be acceptable as long as they maintain those
containers in a clean and sanitary manner
for their crop.>>Produce that is not packed in the field is often
sent to a packing house. These buildings must follow
food safety practices to ensure that produce is being packed,
stored, and cooled in a manner that prevents contamination. If the produce is
rinsed, washed, waxed, et cetera at the packing
house, inspect the water source to ensure that it
is safe for use and that the equipment is
regularly cleaned and sanitized. Cooling equipment is often used
during the packing process. Determine if the
method of cooling or cooling equipment
may introduce potential for contamination. If water is used as
a cooling medium, determine how the farm
controls the water to prevent cross contamination. Check that monitoring
occurs constantly so that potential cross
contamination is minimized. If ice injectors are used
such as with broccoli, ask how the water and ice
systems are kept sanitary and how often the injector
nozzles are cleaned. If ice is manually
packed into containers, determine how the ice is
protected from contamination. In the packing house,
check to make sure that necessary sanitation
measures are in place, buildings are designed
to be cleanable, and appropriate pest
control is used. There are different reasons
that an inspector may need to collect samples
from the farm. While it is not anticipated
that samples will need to be taken routinely during a
produce inspection, you may need to collect samples when
the agency has reasoned to believe a product
might be contaminated. The produce safety rule
established requirements for the records that
farms must keep. During the initial interview,
you ask the farm representative to compile records
for your review. These include training
records, water records, cleaning and sanitizing records,
biological soil amendments of animal origin records. Confirm that the farm is
keeping adequate records that meet the minimum
requirements of the produce safety rule.>>You know, walking around
and looking at the operation, I saw a lot of obviously
paperwork and records and such. And can you elaborate a little
bit about what that means as far as your food safety program
and why it’s important?>>Yes. Well, paperwork
is very crucial. Just an example, what you
saw there on the field, the other fertilizers
that were being applied on the organic fields, you
know, all those fertilizers, it’s healthy for the soil,
healthy for the plant. However, those fertilizers, a lot of them are
derived from animals. And one of the things we require
from our supplier is every lot of fertilizer needs to get
tested for certain pathogens. If it doesn’t have
that analysis, we’re not buying anything. And if we don’t have
those analyses, that product never
gets to our field. It’s very crucial to
have those documentations because at the end of the
day, we want to make sure that every input that we
apply to our crops is safe because that would be–
put the crop in jeopardy.>>What concerns and what kind
of records do you keep with– regarding water,
irrigation water?>>Yes. Well, with water, like
you said, it’s– we need it. Without water, you
can’t grow your crops. It’s one of the very,
very crucial around– of the farming operation. There’s a few factors. First, we have to
understand our water source. We do visual inspections
of our water source. We– Aside from visual
inspections, we test our water monthly. It’s very crucial
to know what kind of quality of water we have. So, all those testings are done
monthly and are kept, you know, on file for recordkeeping.>>The exit interview occurs
at the end of your inspection. During this time,
review your findings with the farm representative
and discuss any actions that may be needed, provide
applicable resources, and issue any forms required
for the close of inspection.>>At the end of the
inspection of a produce farm, we’re going to have an exit
interview with the grower. And during this exit interview,
it’s going to be a review of the observations that
occurred during your inspection. There should be no surprises to the farmer during
this exit interview. It’d just simply be a
review of everything that you’ve already
seen and discussed with the grower during
the inspection. Now, if there’s any
observations that are violations of the regulation that require
you to write a report and issue to that farmer, this
is the time to issue that report to that farmer.>>Regulatory produce
inspections help to build working relationships between produce farms
and regulators. [Background Music] These
relationships are crucial to educating the
produce industry about the produce safety
rule and the regulations that have been put in place
to improve food safety. [ Music ]

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