Food Safety

The produce industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Twenty years ago it was sufficient to have “an annual inspection” and a certificate on the wall showing that your facility had passed an annual audit and was judged to be operating up to some recoginzed set of standards of GMP for facilities or GAP for farms.

The requirements to operate in today’s environment have changed dramatically.

Today – Crystal Valley Foods has a full blown Food Safety Department consisting of:

  • Food Safety Director 
  • QC FS Supervisor 
  • Farm Compliance Director 

Packing facilities and farms in Latin America now have Food Safety Directors and many facilities now have in-house microbiological labs, to complement 3rd party testing. Detailed manuals and compliance registers are maintained daily covering all aspects of personnel training, facility compliance and maintenance, and a broad range of sanitation programs and safeguards.

The questions that are asked to potential new grower associates today aren’t soley regarding volumes and quality of product – but just as critical – “what certification standard is your farm and packing facility certified under”? Then a facility / farm visit is programmed for our Food Safety Director. This is frequently supplemented by visits from customer Food Safety Department personnel.

The priority, for company operated farms and packing facilities as well as 3rd party farms and facilities, is to implement and maintain Food Safety Certification under a standard recognized by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).

Some of the most utilized standards are SQF 2000, Primus GFS, GlobalGap, and BRC (British Retail Consortium).

The food safety programs do positively impact operations activities as well:

  • more effective sanitation safeguards / checks / systems are now being used in all process areas (microbiology swab tests) and water treatment monitoring has become more sophisticated using ORP monitoring instead of simple chlorine additives. 
  • cold chain management has become more sophisticated with the use of raw material sanitation and hydrocooling systems being used upstream from final process, cooling and pack. 
  • 3rd party microbiological and chemical residue testing is now part of regular operational protocols. 

Crystal Valley Foods is a founding member of the UPC council, currently known as GS1. GS1 is one of the primary organizations driving the structured traceability system known as GTIN (GLOBAL TRADE ITEM NUMBER) that is being adopted by many major retail and food service organizations in North America.

The CASE CODE GTIN numbers will be required by several major retailers commencing in November 2013, and Crystal Valley packing facilities are in compliance and ready to initiate the GTIN implementation.