As the majority of the Mexican hot house vegetable seasons get underway, produce distributor and grower, Divine Flavor, has started to include more criteria into their yearly internal food safety audits to help growers comply with areas related to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Working closely with Divine Flavor is 3rd party company, AgroSupport of Mexico, who has been assisting with the internal audits for the past 13 years since the company opened in 2006.
In an effort to understand how the internal audits are being performed and executed with the new FSMA rules, Divine Flavor joined AgroSupport of Mexico’s senior auditor, Jose Rosario, to get a better in-depth look at how the new processes are being carried out. During the two day visit, AgroSupport and Divine Flavor met with the food safety managers at Agrofesa and Vinedos Alta, to do a walkthrough and discuss some of the important areas being reviewed.
“The Purpose of the AgroSupport audit is to provide security to all the processes and products coming from the fields before or after the Primus GFS audit,” said Rosario when talking about the purpose of the audit. “The most important factors are validating the personnel at the ranches and packing house are being trained and following the procedures created by management,” Rosario continued.
When walking though the different sections of the AgroSupport audit, the main areas which were focused on related to water treatment and how it is used through the entire process- everything from how the water is being cleaned and maintained, to how employees wash their hands, and even how water is consumed.
“When AgroSupport conducts the audits, we are checking each section of the supply chain. Pesticide management, organic product application, farms tools, farmer’s hands, etc. But one of the most important which relates to FSMA is the water. We check if growers are meeting the frequency mandated by FSMA and this helps their teams reinforce the rules and lower the risk,” said Rosario.
While conducting the audit, the Divine Flavor team was able to gather feedback from the food safety managers, Maria Del Pilar Rivas of Agrofesa and Raul Diaz of Vinedos Alta. To help other growers gain perspective of the new requirements and to be better prepared, we asked both to elaborate on how their teams benefit from such audits.
“Growers will become better with their internal processes before and after the audits,” Pilar Rivas mentions. “Teams are better trained, personnel is better trained, and all the necessary documents and inspections are being closely followed,” Pilar Rivas concluded.
Speaking with Raul Diaz of Vinedos Alta- “The AgroSupport audit allows us to see things we don’t normally see. We call this ‘Workshop Blindness’,” said Diaz. “The point of this internal audit is that it’s somewhat unannounced which means you need to be prepared at all times. This allows our facilities to have stronger programs which meet the regulations,” said Diaz.