I have been many places and assisted many farming operation since I last posted. I promise to catch up soon!
Nice KOA campsite in Kansas. I meet interesting and nice people almost everywhere I stay. Had a glass of wine and great conversation with my neighbors at this park.
Love the truck wash at the "Biggest Truck Stop" in the US. Why can't we have these in California? Oh yeah...no water...
KOA Journey Campsite in eastern Kansas. Hum...KOA seems to be my choice this trip. They are improving!
Wanted to see Branson MO and parts of the Ozark National Forest. Made it to Sedalia, but too hot and a long way off my path this trip. Turning back. Maybe next time around and a different route.
Let's explore Missouri, come on! No grass under our feet! But first lets make a stop at the Dutch Country Store. Need to refill my tiny cupboards.
Once again...over the Mississippi River we go! Next stop, Missouri.
Who knows what town Mark Twain resided? Yep you guessed it! Hannibal, MO! I was excited to be here at the Mark Twain Cave Hollow campground. A beautiful area right on the Mississippi River.
What an experience! I could have a complete blog post just on the campground. Here is the abbreviated experience. Cave tour; wine tasting; restaurant; hiking; village; theater...
And did I say TORNADO?
From glorious sunny skies to black and wet skies in two hours that seemed like days. Here are some before, during and just after pictures.
Bye Bye Mark Twain. Off to the next farm visit. See you there!
When making changes to your operational procedures, involve your food safety and quality consultant early in the process.
Thinking about industry, customer and government compliance before making changes may save you time and $$$ when drafting your change plan. It is never a good thing to have to undo what you have done because you only thought out efficiency. Efficiency is mighty important! I agree...but if the process does not comply to requirements...well...you know the rest of the story.
Here is a string of changes that might come with simply adding a new line or piece of new equipment, or maybe retrofitting an existing building;
Take a look at the picture below. An existing building...a nice blank slate to start with. What would be first on your list of "to do's" if you where to repack potatoes in this building?
How about resurfacing the floor, and wall siding that can be cleaned and sanitized efficiently.
Why do I always pick the hottest days to drive through Vegas...
First stop, Sevier, Utah KOA. Nice stop in a park newly built on the river. A bit dusty, nice folks, and the best part...30 degrees cooler than Vegas!!
LIV would not go beyond 2000 RPM or 45 MPH peddle to the metal. So I pulled off in a rest stop, opened the hood thinking I had an oil leak or something, couldn't see anything obviously wrong, so I sat down with a cold beer (no not really...I don't drink when on the road :) with a cold glass of water and You Tubed Transit Van "decrease in speed". Sure enough, I found a video that explained if any lead parts are used on the frame, it will cause the system to think something is wrong and decrease speed until it is fixed to protect the engine. Well...take a look at the first pic. What do you see. YES! A blown out lead tire and YES I ran over a piece of it. I found it wrapped around my generator muffler so I removed it and hoped that was the problem. Yep it was! LIV took off like a rocket and all was good. Thank goodness for You Tube!
So much hay in Utah! Where's all the cattle?
Second stop, boondocking in the Vail area of Colorado. Beautiful...The next morning a hot cup of coffee and off to see the Georgetown Trains.
Meals on the road are not bad when I can mix a bit of frozen with fresh local products.
Had a beautiful trip through the Rocky Mountains, stopped many times to take in the view and made it Limon, Co in the evening where I stayed the night before I was to reach my next client.
WHEN MY NEXT FACILITY CLIENT TOLD ME THEY WOULD BE AUDITED BY THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF THE PRIMUSGFS AUDIT SCHEMA, MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS...!@#$%&*...even though I felt confident about the food safety plan. THEN, ON A BEAUTIFUL ROAD TRIP FROM SAN DIEGO, CA TO YUMA, AZ IT BECAME CLEAR TO ME...
THIS AUDIT EXPERIENCE WILL MAKE ME A BETTER CONSULTANT! It will take me out of my comfort zone (not that this industry ever gets comfortable...forever changing!) and every little detail of compliance will be examined. And woman and man was I right!
The facility staff do a great job implementing the company food safety plan! Drains clean and sanitized, floor cracks filled and sealed, rodent traps in place and in good condition, replaced the door seal you can see light coming through, cartons are labeled with all correct coding information to enable trace back and trace forward and all other good practices in place.
So...33 corrective actions later (mostly document details)...WE ACQUIRED AN ALMOST PERFECT SCORE!
For those of you reading this that may not be familiar with audit scoring systems, there is a very important lesson (among 1000's) I learned while working at PrimusLabs for almost a decade; Anything less than 100% means there are things that need improving right away for product integrity. It's not like school when we thought we were doing well if we got a score somewhere in the 90's.
As a consultant and educator of food safety, I must say, my PrimusGFS (GFSI) document writing skills have vastly improved after this experience! A few operating procedures perfected and all staff was re trained on any changes made. We will be looking hard at our www.heavyconnect.com/ HeavyConnect internal audit program this coming year for quarterly implementation consistency. THANK YOU Auditor Molina for making us better food safety implementers!
This year I will focus on how food safety everyday is implemented by my clients and how they communicate this to their customers. It is not always a cake walk. New employees, new compliance requirements, busy seasons and supervisors/managers/coordinators wearing many different hats and changing positions can be a challenge.
Let's travel to a farm visit where a harvest crew is being trained to harvest a new product. Looks neat and tidy right? What can you see that may need improving?
Yes, you got it! Harvested product cartons will need barriers from direct contact with the soil. This operation went far beyond a simple barrier after trialing different methods of harvesting. They purchased new harvest equipment! Cartons are pre loaded onto the harvest equipment platform, built and labeled on the second level, and never come in contact with the soil. After careful handling and a spray of antimicrobial before packing, the carton is conveyed to a trailer that transports the product to a cooler. A large cost to the operation...more efficient, employee friendly, better safety and quality. A good investment!
Another observation while training this crew that is common among new crew members and should be re-enforced by harvest crew supervisors/managers often. Stay in control of harvest tools at every step. From issuing the tools, collecting the tools, sanitizing throughout and at end of day and storing the tools.
How should this knife be worn?
This operation chose cleanable and sanitizable knife scabbards for their employees safety and cleanliness.
After a day in the field, this client has completed an internal harvest crew audit and will work on documenting corrective actions and setting validation review timelines. Job well done!
Here I go, into 2021 after a few weeks with family over the holidays. Well rested and ready to set travel plans for this years on farm/facility visits. This years travel will be more of a routine since I have settled into the full time RV lifestyle and have a solid client base.
Thank you for all your holiday gifts this year. My family and I enjoyed the thoughtfulness! And from your local farms!
Another beautiful morning at another amazing produce operation. Why do I use the term "produce operation"? Well...each of my clients are a bit different. Their operations may include produce growing, packing, repacking, cooling, cold storage and/or transportation. They all have dynamic food safety plans, unique challenges, employee skills, diverse products and production techniques.
What do I mean by a dynamic Food Safety Plan? Each time I visit an operation, the written plans continually will need updating/revising as new machinery may be added, new property is established, employees change, etc.
So let's walk around an operation and see if the food safety plan procedures are followed.
Their customers will be grateful for this food safety teams hard work to comply to good agriculture and manufacturing practices. Thank you Eagle Certifications for sending a qualified auditor. Another successful audit day is one reward for Food Safety Everyday!
Off to the next Produce Operation~
The opportunity to see amazing scenery while traveling in an RV from job to job has been a blessing. Best business investment I have made! No more airplanes, rental cars and strange hotels!
On my way to Salinas, CA I received a call from a client in Colorado very excited about their new purchase. TAKE A LOOK AT THIS HANDWASHING STATION! It has a timer to remind the employees to leave hands in until it turns off. Meritech is the manufacturer.
The next produce operation is a cold storage and transportation company. This company receives palletized product from local farms and fulfills customer orders. Some buyers consider this facility a distribution center or DC. Late at night is when operations get busy and I have the opportunity to watch the action when staying in LIV right there on the property (another advantage of RV life). During the daytime it is quite.
So let's walk around this operation and see if the food safety plan procedures are followed.
A few adjustments and new employee trainings and this operation is ready for an audit. The team here are picking up on "looking up, down and all around" to find the small non-compliances that must be followed on a daily basis.
Audit day was successful and lessons were learned. Keep up the good work team! Thank you Primus Auditing (JS Operations) for sending a qualified auditor!
Thank you birds for cooperating with us to stay out of the eves of the facility.
A few weeks off traveling to catch up on editing documents and visiting family. See you next post!
US Citrus has been grafting citrus trees and establishing groves in perfect sandy loam soil of Hargill, a tiny South Texas town
Check out US Citrus Craft Box! Our family signed up for monthly delivery. What a treat!