By Ben Adams, Jr
Two months ago, the headline for this column was “The ACS Food Defense Plan.” The focus was on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the act’s most recent shoe to drop — the element dealing with “malicious contamination” or “intentional adulteration” of food and how businesses in the food supply chain must defend that chain.
Interestingly, just five weeks after that column was published, the public refrigerated warehousing operation here at Adams Cold Storage in Auburndale received an unannounced “surveillance” visit by an investigator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The purpose was to review our food defense plan, inspect the warehouse, and test our documentation and traceability capabilities for the National School Lunch Program.
The investigator’s checklist asked the following questions:
- Is there a written food defense plan?
- Is there emergency contact information?
- Is there an outside surveillance system?
- Is there an inside surveillance system?
- Are there procedures in place to ensure that all persons in the firm are authorized and properly identified when on the premises?
- Are there use and storage procedures for any hazardous materials in the firm to preclude product adulteration?
- Are there procedures to protect food and food ingredients, including the water used in products?
- Is access to the receiving/shipping area(s) restricted to authorized personnel?
- Is there a procedure to verify that incoming/shipped products are consistent with shipping documents?
- Is there a procedure to observe incoming products for indication of tampering?
- Is there a procedure for maintaining security of products during loading/shipment?
- All products observed were free from apparent tampering or adulteration.
- Have all identified security vulnerabilities been discussed with management?
I’m pleased to report that the inspection went extremely well. As a bonus, the inspector asked our management team to pass along to all employees that he was “extremely pleased with our records, attitude, rapid response capability, and the overall condition and cleanliness of the facility.”
Though we weren’t expecting the investigator’s visit, we were well prepared. In our line of business and given our high standards and our customers’ expectations, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
BIO: Ben Adams, Jr., is an owner and president of president of Adams Cold Storage, LLC, in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates some 250,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, and is AA rated by BRC-International.