Audit Numbers Provide Valuable Information
The LGMA is getting ready to publish its Annual Report which will tally results from the mandatory food safety audits of leafy greens farms in the 2013/14 year. Each year since its inception, the LGMA has published this report which compiles audit findings and categorizes citations that occurred over the past year.
The exercise is very helpful for a number of reasons. First, it serves as a ‘report card’ of sorts for the food safety efforts of leafy greens farmers telling us how our members are doing in terms of the number and severity of the citations issued. Even more valuable is the information learned by looking at what areas of the food safety practices seem to be resulting in the most citations. This information is very helpful in guiding the LGMA Tech program because it tells us which aspects of the required food safety practices warrant the greatest need for additional training and education.
Preliminary numbers from the 2013/14 audits clearly show a continuing drop in total citations issued. Each year, 600 total audits are conducted, including both announced and unannounced audits. Each LGMA audit includes over 180 food safety checkpoints which means over 90,000 checkpoints are verified by auditors over the course of the year. LGMA members must be in 100% compliance with all checkpoints to be certified and for every citation issued, the handler is required to take action to corrective the problem.
Looking at audit citations, and specifically the category where it was issued and level is very helpful when it comes to guiding the LGMA Tech industry training programs. The audit information allows us to see where handlers are having the most problems and tells us where our food safety training programs need to focus. Proper training of everyone involved in the production and harvest of leafy greens is a critical aspect of food safety and it is very helpful to have real-life data to help determine where training is needed.
The goal is for LGMA members to be in compliance with all food safety practices at all times. This is how we will prevent foodborne illness, which is our ultimate objective. As we continue to compile numbers for the 2013/14 audits, we thought it would be interesting to provide a summary of what LGMA handlers are required to do in several important audit areas. Check back in future blog posts for more on that and look for the upcoming LGMA Annual Report which will provide more detailed information on 2013/14 audits.