At West Pak, food safety is an integral part of our entire operation and is our overall objective. It encompasses growing, harvesting, warehousing, packing, and shipping, and includes non-production processes such as interactive employee training programs and third-party audits to comply with and improve our safety processes.
Food safety is a part of every production meeting, where management discusses food safety issues and performs and incorporates our ongoing Food Safety training program. The goal of our Food Safety program is to institute a proactive food safety system to anticipate and control any potential product hazards from product reception all the way through distribution. This program is continuously evolving and improving to ensure a work and food safe environment.
Management also works hard to ensure that all employees understand and successfully operate within a food-safe environment. Because food safety and quality control is the responsibility of all employees of West Pak, each employee serves as an inspector when product moves through their respective area. They are authorized and trained to hold or reject product found to be out of compliance, subject to the evaluation and final approval of authorized management.
West Pak is proud to provide the necessary tools, training, and established guidelines for consistently producing safe, wholesome, quality products.
Food safety is a high-profile topic in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. It has gained media coverage nationwide and has received the attention of government agencies such as the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The food safety record in the avocado industry has been excellent with very few reports of foodborne illness. The constant pressures from food retailers and food service establishments to address proper food safety issues have promoted the industry to adopt the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program and Good Harvesting Practices (GHP) for growing avocados in California and Mexico. Good agricultural practices will be enforced and regulated through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule.
West Pak prides itself on providing only the safest fruits and vegetables to our customers. We share responsibility with our growers to ensure total satisfaction for our customers. It is our goal to facilitate the process for our growers and harvesters to become GAP certified.
West Pak has taken a proactive stance in pioneering food safety in the avocado industry. Our growers are encouraged to stand with us in minimizing the food safety risks of fruits and vegetables. Addressing the common risk factors outlined in the program will result in a more efficient response to emerging concerns about the microbial safety of our fresh fruits and vegetables. Being ahead of the industry puts us on top of the game and first in line for success.
GAP certification benefits everyone in the line of production and helps prevent future food safety issues. The program seeks to identify all potential sources of contaminants that may exist on a farm or ranch. The program is designed to give out growers all of the tools they need to control and monitor any potential contamination sources commonly found on a ranch. Realistically, every ranch or farm has some potential food safety issues. A successful GAP or GHP program manages these issues effectively.
West Pak has identified critical components of grower operation to provide the most substantial impact on food safety. We strive to give our growers guidance and understanding in making informed decisions about food safety issues. To assist growers and harvesters, we have developed food safety guidelines that will meet both GAP and GHP standards. The basic idea behind both programs is the same – identification and reduction of potential contaminants.
Primus Labs is one of the most recognized and respected food safety auditing companies in the world. Their testing provides third-party certification of safe food production and determines compliance to all federal and state government requirements, including FDA, USDA, OSHA, and Public Health departments.
Prior to third-party audits, West Pak performs self-audits using documents provided online from PrimusLabs.com. The self-audits assist us in identifying, reviewing and documenting specific practices in preparation of the actual third-party audit.
The professional auditors of PrimusLabs.com uses industry established guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) to inspect West Pak’s packinghouse and cooling facility. GMPs are regulations published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide criteria for complying with the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C). Emphasis is placed on the prevention of product contamination from direct or indirect sources. Placement, training, and utilization of SOPs minimize the potential for fruit contamination from the field to the cooler to the customer. Finally, HACCP prevents and ultimately eliminates the occurrence of food contamination by controlling all aspects of a food production and packing operation.