Produce Safety Program inspections began in the Spring of 2019 for large produce farms in California. Below is an overview of Produce Safety Program inspections and how they will be scheduled and conducted. More detailed information about the inspection process and how to prepare is available here.
Most Produce Safety Program inspections are announced, which means they will be scheduled ahead of time. Farms in California can expect to receive a phone call from a scheduler who will ask a series of questions including the name of the person on your farm designated as in charge of produce safety. The date of your inspection should be assigned within five days of this initial call. Prior to your inspection date, a Produce Safety Program inspector will contact you to verify the time and location of the inspection.
What to Expect During an Inspection
Part 1: Introductions
When the inspector arrives at your farm, he or she will:
- Ask to meet with the designated produce safety employee.
- Introduce themselves as a CDFA Produce Safety Program Inspector and credentialled as an agent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; provide their name, title and proof of identity.
- Provide you with a Notice of Inspection (FDA form 482).
- Give a brief description of the inspection to be conducted.
- Ask about the farm's organization and the activities being performed on that day (i.e., whether the farm is planting, harvesting, packing or holding produce.)
- Ask if farm maps are available.
Part 2: Walk-Through
The inspector will:
- Observe your farm operations and discuss what is being looked at and why it’s important.
- Ask questions about the farming practices observed and other activities that may take place on the farm but are not available for observation that day.
- Take notes and review records. They may also take photos or collect samples.
- Discuss any regulatory concerns and explain public health implications.
Part 3: Exit Interview
Following the walk-through, the inspector will:
- Go over any regulatory concerns or findings.
- Document any corrections implemented at the time of inspection.
- Identify a time frame to implement corrective actions for deficiencies that cannot be corrected that day.
- Answer any questions you may have about your inspection and farming operations.
- Provide information on resources or technical assistance.
- Leave you with an Observation Form (FDA Form 4056) and an Inspection Report Summary Form that documents the inspection and findings and provides agency contact information.
What Triggers an Unannounced Inspection?
The following are examples of when an unannounced inspection may occur.
- Your farm is unresponsive or unwilling to set a date for inspection.
- Your farm has had produce safety issues in the past that have not been corrected.
- A follow-up to your scheduled inspection is needed and an unannounced inspection may work best to verify necessary changes have been made.
- In response to a complaint, recall or foodborne illness outbreak investigation.