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Contact Information

The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Farm Food Safety: Traceback

Part 4 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan

- Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

Continuing the Answering General Questions portion of your farm food safety plan, which covers the broad details of:
  • Who is responsible and how to reach them
  • Worker health and hygiene 
  • Pesticide usage
  • Traceability 
Suggested wording for traceback, which may work for your farm food safety plan, is given in this installment.

The grower needs to be able to trace their product one step forward (to the buyer) and one step back (to the field). This cannot prevent an outbreak, but can help locate the source of the problem. The ability to trace your product is a key component of your farm food safety plan and necessary to pass a third-party audit. Wholesale growers are required to mark each container so that final purchaser will contain the necessary information to traceback the product to its farm of origin.

Your Farm Food Safety plan must include a written traceback procedure.
  • Harvest dates, specific field, product location within the field or orchard, number of packages within a lot, packing and shipping date and harvest crew records should be kept. 
  • The farm name and address need to be on all boxes. 
  • Each container must contain some type of identification that will maintain its integrity throughout the harvesting and marketing process. This can be accomplished with stickers, stamps or may be handwritten. 
  • The coding system is available for review. 
Consider Conducting a Self-Audit

A self-audit is not required for the USDA GAP’s audit, but conducting a self-audit can be a great way to determine if you are ready for a farm food safety audit. The USDA GAP’s Audit Verification Checklist is the checklist that an auditor will use when conducting an official audit of your farm, and you can utilize this same checklist for your self-audit. This checklist covers all aspects of the audit and will allow you to review the records, documents and policies needed for your farm food safety plan. It can also be a helpful tool to use during the process of creating your farm food safety plan.
Contact Wes Kline or Meredith Melendez for a copy of this checklist.