Food safety certification is a program that provides producers a means to validate practices on the farm and in the packing facility to assure that the produce is being handled in a way that minimizes food safety risks. This program provides an audit to assure that the farm is carrying out actions that will improve the food safety of the food that is harvested and packaged. It creates a standard that is required by the buyers and demanded by the consumers.
Why is food safety is an important issue for growers?
- It assures the buyers that all possible steps have been taken on the farm and in the packaging area to provide produce that is safe for human consumption
- The program is driven by the buyers so the growers need to comply with markets’ demands in order to continue selling to that market
- Buyers specify which company is to supply the food safety certification audit to their growers
- Some buyers will work with farmers to guide them with the food safety certification
- The farmers typically pay for the food safety certification audit process
Growers need food safety certification when…
- Markets require that to sell to them then the farm must pass a food safety certification audit
- Farms that sell direct to the customer want to verify their food safety process
- Farms are considering expanding their markets and want to be prepared in the event that a market requires food safety certification
- Very soon farms will be required to obtain Food Safety Certification under the Food Safety Modernization Act that will be enforced by USDA
- Note that this will be enforced in phases
- Farms of different gross income will be required to be Food Safety Certified over different times (0-6 years starting 2014)
- Farms under $25,000 gross selling direct to the consumer or end user will not be required to be Food Safety Certified-but still practice smart and safe practices to produce food.