Do you think you’re ready for official Produce Safety Rule inspections when they begin in 2019? There’s one way to find out – schedule an On-Farm Readiness Review through CDFA’s Produce Safety Rule Program.
CFDA is committed to educating produce farmers on how to comply with new regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act before it begins to regulate them. So, the new unit charged with conducting on-farm inspections on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is offering California produce farmers and commodity groups the opportunity to learn what to expect during a Produce Safety Rule inspection. When you schedule an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR), CDFA’s new team of inspectors will visit your farm and walk you through the process of what will happen during a real inspection.
These OFRRs are useful in two ways – first, they are helping farmers learn what inspectors will be asking and looking for when farms are inspected under the Produce Safety Rule. Secondly, they are allowing new inspectors to get out onto farms to learn about California produce operations and the food safety practices being implemented.
Rich Ferreira of Lincoln, CA heard about OFRRs through California Certified Organic Farmers, which certifies his organic citrus, and was easily able to schedule a time for CDFA’s Produce Safety Program inspectors to come out to his farm. He had taken the required Grower Training course, but found the OFRR experience much more valuable.
“I attended the required grower training course, but the OFRR provided more specific information,” he said noting that the inspectors who came out to his farm as part of the OFRR were able to help “connect the dots” between the written requirements and what will actually be expected of him under these new regulations.
OFRRs can be scheduled by contacting CDFA’s Produce Safety Program by phone or email. Please note that the Produce Safety Alliance-approved Grower Training is required in order to schedule an OFRR and it’s preferable to schedule an OFRR during harvest periods. When you reach out to CDFA to schedule an OFRR, be prepared to provide the following information:
- Farm name and location.
- A contact person, phone numbers and email addresses.
- The produce items grown, harvested, packed or cooled.
- Harvest timing.
Produce Safety Program officials have conducted several OFRRs so far for crops such as avocados, citrus, walnuts and leafy greens. OFRRs can be scheduled for individual farms, but it is more efficient for a group of farmers to schedule one together. Some commodity groups have worked with CDFA to hold OFRRs for several growers of the same commodity.
The California Avocado Commission has organized a couple of regional OFRRs for their growers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and plan to do more.
“The Commission’s objective is to help California avocado growers understand what will be required of them and to give inspectors a better understanding of avocado production practices,” said Ken Melban, vice president of industry affairs for the California Avocado Commission. “We are very interested in knowing full well what is involved under the new regulations and want to see first-hand what will happen during an actual inspection. These OFRRs are really the best way to do that and we have found them to be tremendously educational for all parties.”
With official Produce Safety Rule inspections set to begin in the Spring of 2019, CDFA is encouraging California produce farmers to learn as much as they can about the Produce Safety Program before then. We highly recommend scheduling an OFRR. More information on how to schedule can be found on our website here.