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The importance of food safety

Nature Fresh Farms takes food safety very seriously. "We believe that our overall success depends on our ability to supply food to our customers that meets or exceeds the highest standards for product quality and safety. Now more than ever, people are acutely aware of the foods they eat, where those foods come from, and the journey that food takes before winding up on their tables. We are committed to ensuring this journey is as safe as possible so our customers can place their full trust in their favorite Nature Fresh Farms products to fuel their families."

With that said, the company also believes it is the responsibility of their entire team to support the development and implementation of food safety systems, standards, and practices within the company. "When our team rallies behind this common goal – to provide our customers with the safest produce possible – we can continuously achieve new levels of food safety excellence."

In this article, the company takes a look at how food safety is implemented. 

Food safety at Nature Fresh Farms
Our food safety procedures are designed to protect our products against risks related to biological, chemical, or physical contamination. Each potential risk is addressed with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which are reviewed yearly, or when changes in the process occur.

Every day, each of our Supervisors completes pre-operational and post-operational food safety checks to ensure we are complying with all food safety rules and regulations. Our team also receives food safety training on an ongoing basis, so everyone stays informed and up to date on changes or improvements to food safety protocols.

Our compliance team
When it comes to food safety, the Compliance team at Nature Fresh Farms plays an important role – it is their responsibility to perform internal audits, verify food safety checks, validate our sanitation procedures, and review food safety documents and forms.

Internal audits
While we bring external auditors into our facilities at least 4 times a year to review food safety compliance, it is up to our internal Compliance team to make sure we are always adhering to food safety practices – especially when no one is watching!

When performing internal audits, the Compliance team checks to make sure all SOPs are being followed at every location, and that food safety standards are being upheld by all team members.

Operational checks & sanitation
We have great confidence in our team members as food safety stewards, but it is always important to double-check our actions to mitigate risks. This is why our Compliance team verifies that pre-operational and post-operational checks are being completed each day by our Supervisors.

Validating our sanitation practices is also an incredibly important responsibility of our Compliance team. We clean our facilities rigorously, but we use ATP tests to discover in seconds how effectively we have been cleaning our surface areas. We also perform micro-checks once a month where we send swabs of our surface areas to be tested in a lab setting to further validate our sanitation efforts.

Supplier & customer food safety reviews
Our partners – from packaging suppliers to retailers – take food safety just as seriously as we do. We work together with all our partners to keep each other accountable, ensuring food safety standards are met or exceeded by each party. To keep these partnerships strong, our Compliance team takes care of performing all supplier reviews, as well as providing up-to-date food safety documentation and certifications for the convenience of our retail partners.

Who holds us accountable for food safety?
Ensuring proper food safety is critical to our company’s success, so we look to a few different parties for support and guidance when checking our adherence to food safety practices.

In addition to our internal Compliance team and our partners, third party auditing companies come to our facilities and perform extensive food safety audits at least 4 times per year.

  • PrimusGFS is a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized audit certification program that regularly performs our food safety audits. 
  • GFSI is a global food safety coalition that aims to build consumers’ trust in the food they buy by improving food safety management practices. GFSI is the industry benchmark when it comes to food safety management, providing GFSI-accredited Certifying Bodies (CBs) with the credibility and influence they need to ensure food businesses are meeting the highest standards for all things food safety.

When it is time for us to be audited by PrimusGFS, our Compliance team works diligently to complete a host of modules that review our overall performance and ability to follow food safety protocols, SOPs, and regulations. The modules we complete with PrimusGFS include:

Module 1 – Food Safety Management System
Module 3 – Indoor Agriculture
Module 4 – Harvest Crew
Module 5 – Facility
Module 6 – HACCP

HACCP, which stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, is a program with specific principles related to food safety risk mitigation. Any food safety system that is accredited is based on the principles of HACCP.

Using HACCP principles, our Compliance team develops a process flow for each product we handle. This process flow helps our team identify where potential contamination can occur throughout the production process. Whether it’s while our Tomatoes are still growing on the plant, or when they are being packed into cases for shipping, it’s critical for our team to use HACCP to prevent any type of contamination within our workplace.

Food safety & COVID-19
There has been a lot of discussion and research conducted on whether there is a risk of COVID-19 being a foodborne illness. From what health organizations and food safety experts tell us, it has been proven that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through food. To learn more, explore the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s list of resources related to COVID-19 and food safety.

The food safety practices we have in place at Nature Fresh Farms are designed to mitigate foodborne illnesses from being transmitted to our customers. Before we knew whether COVID-19 was potentially a foodborne virus, we were already taking the right actions to protect our produce and the people who eat it from contracting foodborne illnesses.

Although COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in this way, it is always important to wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, as well as wash our hands regularly. While we take special care of our products as they are picked, packed, and shipped to the store, your Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers (and all fresh produce, for that matter) have still passed through many hands before arriving on your table. That is why it is always best practice to rinse fresh foods in cold water before eating!

For more information:
NatureFresh Farms

www.naturefresh.ca

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