Food Safety Audits
Farms commonly use third-party food
safety audits to provide independent evidence that the farms are managing
production and handling risks to minimize foodborne illness and other food
Third-party means that someone with no
financial interest in either the farm or the company purchasing the produce
conducts the audit. An auditor reviews the food safety plan to see that
critical issues are addressed, and visits the farm to observe its practices to
determine whether they are consistent with the food safety plan.
The USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service
conducts food safety audits, as do a number of private companies. Specific
requirements and costs of an audit vary depending on the provider and protocol
Many wholesale produce buyers demand
that their suppliers pass a third-party audit to provide assurance that food
safety risks are minimized. Current federal regulations do not require farms to
pass food safety audits. Therefore, it is up to each grower to determine
whether an audit will benefit his or her particular operation.
The resources below provide more
information about audits, their cost, and how to prepare for one. Use them to
help determine whether an audit would benefit a particular operation, which
audit would be most suitable, and what steps to take if an audit is desired.