Farm Focus: In Compliance - The Food Safety Modernization Act
As you probably have gathered from reading our newsletters, there's a lot that goes into farming above and beyond field work. We work hard to grow the most delicious fruit we can, but that's only one part of the work we do to bring those delicious fruits to you.
This week we will undergo our second third party food safety audit for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The audit will be performed by a third party inspector with CCOF. This audit will help prepare us for when audits are conducted by Federal FSMA inspectors, which will likely be next year. FSMA is a nationwide act signed by President Obama in 2011 written to regulate the way food is grown, harvested and processed to ensure the reduction of biological, chemical and physical contamination of food.
Because this law encompasses every sector of farm operations, including field operations, harvest, post harvest handling, packing, delivery, facilities and more, it has taken a while for the law to come down to the farm level. Last year was the first year farms of our size needed to be in compliance and we were pleased to have passed our first audit with flying colors.
In every audit there are 13 chapters and multiple control points within each chapter. Farms need to be in 100% compliance with each control point to pass inspection. Every possible point of contact with the food, ranging from orchard ladders, vehicles that are used for transport, all packing materials, belts in the packing line, pallets on which fruit is stacked, and more, needs to be evaluated and in compliance.
For each control point farms must develop their own Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) outlining how they are going to implement a system for compliance. For example, all buckets that we use for compost have a green stripe painted on them and all buckets used for the kitchen do not and buckets used for non food waste are yellow. Buckets are one of the many items that fall under Chapter 5: Post-Harvest Handling Operations, Subchapter 5.6: Containers, Bins, Packaging.
As you can imagine, this is a lot of work! Last year Rachel wrote out all of our SOPs. Now that we have the backbone of our system laid out, Rachel and Carla are working to refine things to make it easier for employees to implement them.
Luckily our organic certification and our FSMA audits happen several months apart or Rachel and Carla would need to clone themselves!