Through a partnership between the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) and Western Growers, a new tool is being made available to make food safety audits safer and more efficient. The two groups have collaborated with iFoodDecisionSciences (iFoodDS) to allow much of the audit process to be done digitally without the need for in-person interaction.
“We want to continue and we need to continue to do food safety work and provide food safety oversight, but we also need to be cognizant of the fact that we’ve got to protect workers,” said LGMA CEO Scott Horsfall. “We’ve got to protect auditors; we’ve got to protect everybody who might be on the farm. So, we’ve been looking for ways to offer more options, more flexibility, and more protections to growers.”
Food safety audits are continuing to be conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving the documentation portion of the audit process to an online platform will allow for less personal interaction and keep farmers and auditors safer as a result. While some on-farm aspects of a food safety audit will still need to be performed on the farming operation, using the iFoodDS software will allow for the paperwork portion of an audit to be conducted digitally.
“There’s also a huge amount of documentation that is reviewed and verified during an audit. There’s no reason that two people need to be sitting in a room passing papers back and forth if we can move that online. That’s really what this system does,” said Horsfall. “It allows the auditors to review and verify that documentation is correct and is in place, but we just take that out of the on-farm part of the audit.”
The process for performing the mandatory audits remotely has been tested and approved by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The new tool is now available for certified LGMA members when it comes time for an audit, with an average of five audits being conducted every year.
Listen to the interview below.