The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is committed to educating California produce farmers on how to follow new food safety regulations of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) under the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
To strengthen this commitment, the CDFA Inspection and Compliance Branch recently brought on Lina Nguyen as a Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist. Lina is dedicated to making sure farmers understand how to comply with the PSR and can pass CDFA Produce Safety Program (PSP) inspections being conducted on their farms on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Lina has been working with the PSP since November. Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her job was to visit produce farms immediately following a PSR inspection to make sure that all non-compliance issues were corrected and that the farm understood exactly what is required of them under the PSR.
“My job is much more about education and communication than enforcement,” Lina said. “We want farmers to understand and implement the required food safety practices on their farms and to know why these are important.”
Lina holds a degree in human biology from the University of California, Merced. Prior to joining CDFA, she held positions in quality assurance/quality control at farms and other food facilities. One of her first jobs was with a prune growing and processing operation in Yuba County where she implemented its initial hazard analysis and critical control points (HAACP) program and created systems for documentation even before FSMA came into law.
With experience in food production and regulatory requirements, Lina is perfect for the job of helping farmers understand how to comply with regulations. She also will be spearheading a collaboration with University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension to develop tools and other educational resources to support produce farms in following PSR regulations. Through this work with UC, she will help connect growers with expertise to aid in performing root cause analysis to advance food safety learnings and put preventive measures in place to help avoid future outbreaks.
Lina noted that as she is able to spend more time with farmers and inspectors, she hopes they can zero in on the key areas where farmers need more assistance in terms of compliance. Then, farming personnel, food safety officials and UC staff can collaborate in creating further beneficial guidance for farmers in a number of food safety areas.
We look forward to learning more from Lina Nguyen.