California produce farms must document that they are following all required food safety practices under the Produce Safety Rule.
The California Produce Safety Program’s role is to educate California produce farmers on how to comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule and then regulate farms to ensure they are in compliance with this new law.
Farms with more than $25,000 in average annual sales of produce (averaged over the previous three years) are now subject to Produce Safety Program inspections to verify compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.
California produce farms must be able to prove they are following and documenting all required food safety practices and procedures.
The best way to understand what practices are required of produce farms is to go through the mandatory Produce Safety Rule Grower Training course. During a Produce Safety Program inspection, farms will be asked to verify an employee of their farm has completed this grower training.
In general, farmers should expect that Produce Safety Program inspectors will ask to review records documenting employee training, practices, procedures and water quality. The Produce Safety Rule requires farms to maintain such documents for a period of two years. An inspection of the production site will also be conducted, which could include growing, harvesting, packing and holding procedures to verify that facilities and activities meet Produce Safety Rule requirements. Farmers should be prepared to answer specific questions regarding their operation as it relates to the Produce Safety Rule.
Produce Safety Rule inspections will be done on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As such, Produce Safety Program inspectors are credentialed by the FDA and have specific education and training.
As with all other programs within the CDFA's Inspection Services Division, you can expect the following from CDFA Produce Inspectors. They are:
- Financially independent and unbiased.
- Accountable to the public, legislature and industry.
- Part of a public agency mandated to protect the food supply.
- Trained rigorously in food safety standards.
- Consistent and uniform.
- Required to report threats to public health to the appropriate authorities – in this case, the California Department of Public Health.
The primary difference between Produce Safety Program inspectors and other CDFA produce inspectors, is the Produce Safety Program inspectors are performing inspections on behalf of the FDA.
Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture
Director, Inspection Services
Branch Chief, Inspection and Compliance Branch
Shelley D. Phillips
Supervisory Environmental Scientist - Program Supervisor
Senior Environmental Scientist – Foodborne Outbreak Specialist
Senior Environmental Scientist - Compliance Officer
Dr. Donald Stoeckel
Senior Environmental Scientist – Water Microbial Specialist