As the result of the release of the FDA environmental assessment at Jensen Farms, the roles of all food safety persons involved at Jensen Farms-Frontera have rightfully come under fire. Once again the nature of industry-led food safety regulation itself (food safety auditing) is in question.
That all involved maintain some degree of responsibility for this disaster is without question. When a disaster like this occurs, one must ask who is responsible, but also why did it occur and how can it be prevented in the future.
The produce industry is unregulated and has been since the founding of this country, and this is the primary problem. In the recent past, we have become painfully aware of the inadequacies of our industry-led prevention efforts at the farm level. In defense of the effort, while much has been done, it has been a short time to change the nature of agriculture. This is what we are doing by implementing food safety strategies in open air and on-farm environments. We must also change the culture; animals on farms, for example, have been a given for centuries.
Food safety auditors executing a buyer-driven auditing model rely upon the certification body to develop and manage the standard that guides their work in the field. The standard is not a public health law and it is not developed like one. The auditor has no legal authority to demand records, embargo products, or close an operation, for example.
Enforcement, if you will, has been in the hands of the “buyers.” They rely on third-party audits, their own second-party audits, letters of guarantee and the like, before make buying decisions. Buying decisions should take into account food safety, but supply and demand pressures might induce buyers to purchase from sources without a clear safety margin. However wrong this is, there is nothing illegal about this practice.
Auditors currently are not required to inform FDA of violations, but auditors are currently required to know what regulatory violations have been cited in the records of the firm, and if they were corrected. Auditors are also expected to follow the guidelines of the audit and make an accurate assessment of findings. When this is not done we must ask why.
Source: FnB news
The Expert’s Thought: Food Safety Auditing would help to identify critical control points thereby eliminating hazards and ensuring safer food for human consumption.