Produce Farm Inspections
The IDOH began conducting produce farm inspections in 2019. Because the Produce Safety Rule is still relatively new, initial inspections will be educational and no citations will be written unless egregious conditions are observed, such as a visible source and route of contamination creating a serious public health risk.
All routine inspections will be announced and scheduled in advance by IDOH; however, unannounced inspections may occur for the following reasons: prior, unresolved produce safety issue; a follow-up inspection; the grower does not respond to communications from IDOH; and/or response to a complaint, recall or foodborne illness outbreak investigation.
What to expect during an inspection:
The inspection is made up of several parts.
Initial Interview: IDOH staff will introduce themselves and meet with the person in charge. They will discuss the purpose of the visit, visitor policies and protocols, and documents that will need to be reviewed during the inspection.
Walk-Through: The Food Safety Farm Consultant and grower will look at all the activities that are covered under the Produce Safety Rule. This may include walking the fields; observing the harvesting process; interviewing workers; and observing storage and holding areas, packing lines and other equipment, employee break rooms and restrooms.
Documents and Records Review: At the end of the inspection, the Food Safety Farm Consultant will look over some of the farm’s records. These may include employee trainings, agricultural water testing, Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin treatments and application and the cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and tools.
Exit Interview: The Food Safety Farm Consultant will review any observations and findings discussed during the inspection. If there are any issues or conditions that will lead to contamination of produce, they will be discussed at this time and the grower will be given the opportunity to correct them. At the conclusion of the exit interview, the grower will receive a Produce Farm Inspection Report.
Growers can prepare for their inspection by:
Requesting Onsite Farm Technical Assistance
- IDOH is committed to supporting the farming community. Food Safety Farm Consultants are available to assist produce growers with the interpretation of the Produce Safety Rule and implementing farm practices that reduce the risk of microbial contamination from farm to table. Consultants also work with growers to help prepare them for inspection.
- Activities may include conducting educational farm visits and providing technical assistance, such as new building plan review, food safety plan development, record keeping and determining farm classification.
- Food Safety Farm Consultants' services are at no cost to growers and range from brief telephone discussions to onsite mock inspections. Email ProduceSafety@isdh.IN.gov or call 317-233-3220 for more information.
Attending a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training Course
- Purdue University Extension offers PSA training both remotely and in person. This course covers the Produce Safety Rule requirements as well as best practices. For more information and to see available training dates, visit https://ag.purdue.edu/extension/safeproduce/Pages/training.aspx.
- For more information about required training for farms, visit https://www.fda.gov/media/131121/download.
Requesting an On-Farm Readiness Review
- Participating in an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) of your farm is a great way to prepare for an inspection. An OFRR is a 2-hour walk-through of your operation by staff from the Indiana Department of Health and the Purdue University Extension. It provides feedback and suggestions for improvements based on requirements in the Produce Safety Rule 21 CFR Part 112. No notes or photos will be taken.
- This is a confidential service with no cost to growers who have already taken the Produce Safety Alliance training. Growers do not have to be covered by the Produce Safety Rule to request a review. It is a resource open to all produce farms.
- To request an On-Farm Readiness Review, call the produce safety farm consultant in your area.
Reviewing PSR Regulatory and Guidance Documents
- FDA Final Rule on Produce Safety: provides coverage and exemptions, key requirements and compliance dates
- FDA Draft Guidance: provides examples and recommendations for subparts of the PSR
- FDA Small Entity Compliance Guide
- What to Expect During an Inspection
- Produce Safety Inspections FAQ
Reviewing Food Safety Practices and Organizing Records
- Utilize the IDOH Pre-inspection self-assessment checklist
- Review records required by the Produce Safety Rule, and utilize record templates if needed