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Friday, May 25, 2012

Farm Food Safety: Compliance Documentation - Harvest Activities

Part 6 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan

-Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

The USDA Good Agricultural Practices audit requires that certain activities on the farm be documented. These logs should accurately reflect what you have done on the farm to ensure food safety. If you do not write your activities down the auditor will assume that the activity never happened. This documentation may be new for many growers, so making it as easy as possible for you to comply will ensure that the documenting happens in a manner that is acceptable to an auditor.

What harvest logs will you need to have as a part of your farm food safety plan?

Hand Harvesting Implements (knives, pruners, etc.) Cleaning Log
The cleaning log documents that harvest implements are cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis, reducing the risk of cross-contamination. The cleaning log should include:
  • Date
  • Number of knives cleaned
  • Number of knives disinfected
  • Comments
  • Initials

Pre-Harvest Assessment Log 
The pre-harvest assessment log is written documentation that preventative measures were taken prior to harvest to reduce the potential of product contamination. Each column should be marked with a yes, no, or N/A (not applicable). If corrective actions are needed the actions taken should be written down and initialed by the employee responsible for those actions. Examples of questions on a pre-harvest assessment log include:
  • Are toilet and wash facilities properly located?
  • Is potable water available for workers? 
  • Is harvest equipment available and in good condition? 
  • Are disinfection containers for knives available? 
  • Is there evidence of unauthorized entry in the crop area and if so, has it been investigated? 
  • Is there evidence of domestic or wild animal crop damage? 
  • Is there evidence of physical contamination in the crop area? 
  • Are fuel and chemicals which might contaminate crop areas isolated? 
  • If areas are contaminated are they isolated for “no-harvest”? 
  • Are there any other notable sources of biological or physical contamination such as dump sites, manure, burning debris, water that may affect food safety?
  • Is transportation equipment clean and available?

Field Harvesting Equipment and Transportation Sanitization 
This log documents the cleaning and sanitation of field harvesting equipment. This equipment should be cleaned at the beginning of each season and as needed throughout the season. The field harvesting equipment and transportation sanitization log should include:
  • Date
  • Equipment type 
  • Checked (check mark) 
  • Cleaned (check mark) 
  • Sanitized (check mark) 
  • Sanitizer used and rate of use 
  • Employee’s initials 

Harvesting Container Sanitation Log 
Single use containers will not need a regularly scheduled cleaning since they are used only once. Containers that have been previously used should be washed, rinsed, and/or sanitized on a scheduled basis determined by farm management. Size and shape can complicate the washing of these containers and thought should be given to this process when purchasing new equipment. High power washers and commercial washers are commonly used to clean harvest containers. The harvesting container sanitation log should include:

  • Date
  • Number of containers  
  • Containers – Checked, Cleaned, Sanitized, Sanitizer used and usage rate
  • Pallets – Checked, Repaired, Sanitized, Sanitizer used and usage rate 
  • Employee’s initials