Q: “In the event of a produce-related shortage, how do retailers ensure that the produce they source is from growers who have implemented produce food safety practices?”
A: Retailers have multiple suppliers across the country and within geographical regions. Major and “back up” suppliers must be compliant with basic food safety requirements, including GAPs, to be eligible to supply produce items to the retail market.
-Steve Tracy, Food Safety Manager, Supply Chain and Retail Operations, Delhaize America, Food Lion
Q: “For a grower of produce who eventually supplies a major food retailer, approximately how often is that grower audited? How many times is that produce inspected along the food supply chain?
A: Typically a GAP third party audit is conducted on an annual basis, meaning one audit per year. The audit process may require more than one visit to the farm, however as the auditor will need to see the crop in production and harvest processes. Third party audits also frequently include an unannounced visit as part of the inspection. There are tow apt er points though when e issue of number of audits is mentioned. The first is that separate buyers may have separate firms that they requre to be used for third party auditing. This means a single company, selling to multiple buyers, could very well be undergoing audits by many third party audit firms in a single year. This can be frustrating, time consuming and expensive for the producer. A second issue is that the buyer, in addition to third party auditors, may have their own internal quality assurance personnel that will inspect the farm and the produce during the season.
-Chris Gunter, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Horticultural Sciences, NCSU