After a temporary postponement of facility inspections under the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), the practice has resumed. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) began routine PSR inspections last month. Operations need to be prepared for a potential inspection and have all the necessary documentation ready to be presented.
“Understand that they can be there now during harvest or growing season. Before it was just harvest season when they were coming out, but now it’s both. So, it does open up and have a larger window for when they can be out on your farm,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety for the Western Agricultural Processors Association. “You need to be prepared when those inspections do come.”
Operations with more than $250,000 in average annual sales over the last three years that are covered by the PSR are subject to routine facility inspections. CDFA will typically notify its intention for inspection about a week prior, allowing operations to prepare the necessary materials. “There aren’t very many required documents, but you want to make sure that the ones that are required you do have, and you do have the backup documentation for that,” Rodriguez noted.
There are additional considerations that will need to be accounted for when preparing for facility inspections in relation to COVID-19. Inspectors should be made aware of the types of COVID-19 protocols that have been put into place, such as the wearing of face masks and adhering to social distancing. Rodriguez also explained that any visitor, including inspectors, should fill out a questionnaire before coming into a facility. When preparing for inspection it is also a good idea to think about how to implement social distancing during the inspection process. “Having that prepared documentation that they will be reviewing – so the required documents – having those available and accessible on a table set out for the inspector, that would be the best way to minimize that exposure.”
Listen to the interview below.