Retailers Concerned: Food Safety Standards in the Field (From GOPEX)
For those at the Global Organic Produce Expo (GOPEX) in Miami last week, there was a lot of talk of...
Food Safety Consultants are in a unique position to help farming operations across the country build stronger cultures of food safety, one of the core elements of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety. By using paperless food safety software to monitor client accounts, they can increase their working capacity and make an even bigger impact.
From educational assessments to audit preparation, Food Safety Consultants equip farmers with the tools they need to stay ahead on evolving food safety regulations.
We asked Deb Garrison to take us behind the scenes and show us what an average day looks like for her technology-enabled business. Deb owns and operates AgEmpowered, an all-in-one Food Safety Consulting Service that educates, develops, and prepares food safety programs for growers and suppliers alike. Additionally, Deb is a licensed third-party auditor and works with over 20 growers each year to ensure compliance.
Deb works with farmers to improve food safety while growing her consulting business. She travels farm to farm and parks her RV on-site to be near her clients for the entire consultation period. Equipped with satellite and cellular hotspot powered internet, she’s able to stay connected to her food safety dashboard.
As a Food Safety Consultant, Deb ensures all her clients are complying with local and national regulations and properly implementing the food safety plans she’s built for them. Consulting for many farms across eight states, Deb gets real-time updates from her growers on a personalized dashboard. From her morning review, Deb is able to prioritize her day to address the most urgent problems in the field. Each food safety plan is customized to meet the individual farm’s needs, so daily account support is very important.
Any given morning might include:
Deb is able to take corrective actions three times faster by using a digital platform.
“Before I started using HeavyConnect, it would take about three days to get paper documentation from the field to the office in order for me to take a corrective action. Now, I receive food safety reports immediately from anywhere.”
In order to create a comprehensive food safety plan for any farming operation, Deb’s mobile consultation business relies on in-person site visits with key operational personnel. Usually, she’s spending this time in the field or facility helping identify workflows that will suit the operation’s unique needs.
“Sometimes I will meet with people in the main office to review documentation. Most times at the initial stages, I’m exploring the property in a field or in a facility. In the field, I’m normally working with a harvest supervisor to look at their harvesting crews and existing processes. Right now, I’m working with a logistics cooler on strategies for allergen control. The work varies tremendously.”
During the consultation, Deb works closely with the client to determine the best way to replace their existing food safety workflows or implement a new food safety practice. Encouraging all staff to practice food safety every day can be a major challenge, but she makes it a point to make compliance more efficient in the field and facility for each client.
After consulting with the client, Deb heads back to her mobile office to start working on a food safety plan.
If it’s a fairly new facility, Deb forms a new digital food safety plan. When plans are finished and she’s confident in a draft, she sends it off to her client for review and feedback.
“After feedback is received and we’ve met our goals within the plan, I move on to a final draft that gets sent to any other management personnel or staff. When the plan gets the final check of approval, I begin setting up their new online account for compliance management. I use HeavyConnect’s food safety and quality assurance software for all of my clients’ plans.”
Because Deb is an all-in-one expert serving operations of all types and sizes, some site visits may require multiple days of work. Once a plan has been approved and new HeavyConnect accounts have been set up, she returns to her RV to finish up her day.
“Things change on the road and I have to remain agile and flexible. For example, I was supposed to be near McAllen, Texas, and had to cancel due to Hurricane Hanna. Regardless, I always put my customers’ needs first and fill my travel gaps with new site visits or the occasional day off exploring.”
Deb leveraged her industry expertise and new technology to redesign a normal workday without sacrificing her favorite part of the job: meeting her customers on the farm. She hasn’t had to give up those relationships and is able to spend valuable time with her customers across the US, all while providing constant, proactive service.
Since going paperless, Deb has increased her work capacity and overall business growth as she becomes more accessible and helpful to her customers than ever before.
“I am working with my customers daily to ensure their food safety is being reported and managed without error. Because of HeavyConnect’s software solution, I can be there for my customers from virtually anywhere on the road.”
Contact HeavyConnect for a free demo to see how our tools can help you proactively and efficiently grow your business or improve your farming operations’ food safety awareness.
In July, the FDA released their Blueprint for the “New Era of Smarter Food Safety”, building on...