Colleen Haskins, On-Farm Food Safety Program Lead, OMAFRA Guelph
The requirement of having a food safety audit for farm production is increasing, and some of the major retailers are requesting a short turn around time for these to be completed and producers to be certified. Produce commodities are classified into different risk categories, and some retailers are requiring high risk produce to be certified first. Audits are focused on the season in which the commodity is being produced, and typically occur during harvest or packing. Many audits require a minimum of 3 months of records to be completed prior to an audit being conducted, however if nutrient applications were made in the previous fall for the next years production, those records may be considered during an audit as well. With any food safety program, it is imperative to maintain and keep your records as proof of due diligence for your farm productions and often to be kept for 2 years at a minimum.
Contact your retailer or customer to verify which food safety program they require and the requirements for record keeping before you schedule your audit. Now is the time to get started and the good news is, we can help! Food safety questions? Ask us. Visit our website for more food safety information and additional resources. www.ontario.ca/good-ag-practices