Register your visitors to ensure food safety compliance

When maintaining a farm with food safety in mind, you need to know who’s around the produce throughout the season. Having a well-written policy in your food safety manual is the first step to this knowledge.

As important as visitors are when they purchase produce, they can pose problems when they enter a produce field, particularly as it approaches harvest. Having a visitor policy helps ensure that you know who has been around the food you harvest until it leaves your care. In addition, it helps inform those who will be around your produce how to keep it safe for those who will ultimately eat it.

When writing a visitor policy there are a number of questions you need to answer. Who is required to sign in? Specifying that farm workers and the grower are exempt from signing in may be a good policy. If you use the sign-in sheet to document hours worked by farm workers, it may not be such a good policy. You may also want to exempt or have a single sign-in for any crop scouts that make regular trips into the field that could be trained in food safety much like the farm workers.

How long does an individual need to be on the farm in order to sign in? If you have a farm stand or retail establishment, having a policy of all visitors regardless of the length of visit doesn’t make sense.

Remember that you need to outline a policy that you can consistently deliver on and document compliance against. If the policy is too restrictive, you may not be able to follow through with it. Always keep the policy as nonspecific as possible to allow for the best level of compliance.

If you have specific questions about writing a visitor policy or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 517-788-4292. To obtain a guidance document on draft language for a visitor policy for a food safety manual, ask for guidance document AFSM006-01.

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