Crafting a Water System Risk Assessment for a GAP Manual

Water conveyance systems for food safety purposes must be assessed regularly and the same way every time. Creating a standard operating procedure that explains how the assessment will be performed is a good method of standardization.

Conducting an assessment of water conveyance systems is of incredible importance to fresh produce growers wishing to maintain the safety of the food they grow. To do it well, the assessment must be conducted regularly and the same way every time. Creating a standard operating procedure (SOP) within a food safety manual that explains how the assessment will be performed is a good practice.

According to Michigan State University Extension, when crafting a water system assessment SOP, a number of items are essential to include. The SOP will need to specify how frequently and at what time of the year the assessment will be performed. It will also need to clearly state whose responsibility it is to complete the assessment. You can see a sample water system risk assessment SOP below.

Water System Risk Assessment SOP

“A water system risk assessment will be completed every six months during the spring and fall in accordance with the assessment criteria in Document 1 (reference a list of assessment criteria wherever it falls within your food safety manual). The assessment will be carried out by the employee with designated food safety responsibilities. After completion of the assessment, the employee will record the date and any changes that need to be made in the water quality assessment log.”

Finally, a record of each assessment should be included in your food safety manual. This provides that final step of showing you’ve done an assessment in the past. The auditor is looking for evidence of a system written in the GAP Manual to minimize incidence of foodborne contamination and documentation that it has been taking place in the past. Writing the risk assessment criteria and SOP is the first step. Implementing the practices on your farm is the next step. Documenting that you completed a water system risk assessment is the final step.

Remember that an assessment SOP is only a small part of conducting a water quality assessment. An effectively crafted set of assessment criteria provide the measuring stick for the assessment, the SOP provides the instructions on how the assessment needs to be carried out and the water quality assessment log provides the proof that it was done. If you would like more information on conducting a water quality assessment, contact the Agrifood Safety Workgroup at 517-788-4292 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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