Tap Into Time-Saving Software For Food Safety’s Sake

Robert Holthouse
Robert Holthouse

Time is a valuable resource and can be a major motivator, too. Case in point: Holthouse Farms in Willard, OH, — an operation that dates back to 1903 — had to prepare for the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) audit so the farm along with its marketing operation, D.R. Walcher Farms in North Fairfield, OH, could be GFSI certified. Robert Holthouse, son of co-owner Ken Holthouse, had opted to return to his Ohio roots in early 2012 and tackle food safety tasks for the farms. Getting ready for the GFSI audit seemed like a doable project at the time, or so he thought.

With a degree in media productions, on the surface Robert’s background didn’t seem to fit the job at hand. Little did he know, however, that with the help of his wife Kate and his friend, Brad Chase, a software engineer, it was a perfect fit. “My dad had been talking about what the farm was doing with food safety, and I needed a challenge,” explains Robert. He accepted the challenge in February 2012, knowing he needed both farms certified by July. Between the two operations, more than 1,400 acres of peppers, cucumbers, squash, gourds, and pumpkins are produced and packed.

Setting Standards

What followed was a significant amount of research, writing food safety procedures, and compiling 600 pages of standard operating procedures (SOPs). “It seemed insurmountable. I kept telling myself that I just would write one [SOP] at a time, but then every one of those SOPs needed a corresponding log to validate it,” he says.

It all came together, however, and Holthouse Farms received its first GFSI certification on Aug. 1, 2012. Robert points out that both farms had been getting GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certifications for years before they went to the GFSI audit. “We have always been concerned with making sure our products are safe. Passing audits is just a bonus for safe food. GFSI is a more active and robust safety scheme so we adopted it not only for the audit itself, but because it helped us be even safer,” he says.

Part of that process includes tending to more than 60 logs every day at each location. Robert says between 120 and 150 log entries must be made per day. “Documentation is very important. And to outside people, it validates that a practice is being done. To me as the food safety director, it gives me a better picture of what is going on,” he says.

Keeping track of what was going on required mountains of paperwork. With the SOPs in place and toward the end of Robert’s first year as food safety director, he and his wife noted that numerous hours were required to make sure that what people are writing down actually happened and then checking paperwork to make sure it was done correctly. It was usually after employees went home when Robert had the time to check the books to be sure everything was in order and all the logs were properly filled out. This time-consuming process needed to be sped up and streamlined. “The first thought I had was to have the information entered digitally and have a digital tracking system,” he says. “The problem you run into, and the reason why I didn’t do it this way the first year, is the data can be changed, and I may not be able to see that it was changed.” That was a significant drawback for maintaining valid records of food safety procedures.

Pages: 1 2 3

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Tap Into Time-Saving Software For Food Safety’s Sake

Farm Management Stories

FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh Approach To Marketing
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement National Produce Safety Rule
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s Website
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
MarketingMarketer Finds Niche With First-Of-Its-Kind Orange Maze
September 12, 2014
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Not Bob McKellar, creator of the first orange maze in the U.S. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Wet Season Receives Slight Respite
September 9, 2014
Reports indicate most areas around the region received below average rainfall during August. Read More
Farm ManagementStay One Step Ahead Of Legal Challenges
September 8, 2014
Don’t get caught up in easily prevented legal troubles from a lack of planning. Read More
Farm ManagementWilbur-Ellis’ Updates AgVerdict Software After Grower Feedback
September 8, 2014
Design made with growers in mind, allows on-the-go data entry. Read More

The Latest

CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Wet Season Receives Slight Respite
September 9, 2014
Reports indicate most areas around the region received below average rainfall during August. Read More
Farm ManagementStay One Step Ahead Of Legal Challenges
September 8, 2014
Don’t get caught up in easily prevented legal troubles from a lack of planning. Read More
Farm ManagementWilbur-Ellis’ Updates AgVerdict Software After Grower…
September 8, 2014
Design made with growers in mind, allows on-the-go data entry. Read More
CitrusWhole Farm Revenue Protection Adds Up For Crop Insuranc…
September 4, 2014
New USDA program to provide coverage for all agricultural commodities. Read More
CitrusUniversity Of Florida’s Class Of 2018 Raises The Bar …
September 4, 2014
Arriving College Of Agriculture And Life Sciences students bring strong credentials and diversity. Read More
Farm ManagementStudy Shows ‘Megadrought’ On The Radar For …
September 2, 2014
Global warming trends fuel parched prediction from scientists. Read More
Farm ManagementTrimble’s Connected Farm Now Includes Field Data Mana…
September 2, 2014
Trimble adds two apps that work with their Connected Farm Web-based solution, providing growers and their advisors with more detailed field information. Read More
Farm ManagementLeadership And Management Expert To Speak At California…
August 27, 2014
Daniel Goleman will make presentation at California State University-Fresno. Read More
Citrus‘Super Cold’ Winter, Sizzling Summer On Tap In 2015…
August 21, 2014
The 223rd edition of the folksy regional forecast manual predicting extremes. Read More
CitrusU.S. Sugar Buying South Florida Sugar Cane And Vegetabl…
August 15, 2014
Purported deal worth $100 million to purchase farmland and assets of Knight Management Inc. Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Future Farming Leaders Dig Up Knowledge…
August 15, 2014
Class 3 of FFVA's Emerging Leader Development Program learn a lot from road trip to California's Salinas Valley. Read More
CitrusU.S. Fall Weather Outlook Foresees Wild Ride
August 14, 2014
From continued drought in the West, to a possible early Polar Vortex visit in the East, forecasters are predicting an active autumn. Read More
CitrusUpdate On The Farm Bill Implementation
August 11, 2014
A six-month progress report states disaster relief, risk management tools, innovative conservation partnerships, and the research foundation are all moving forward. Read More
Farm ManagementFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Announce Pers…
August 6, 2014
Sonia Tighe and Mike Aerts to take on new staff positions. Read More
CitrusFarming Production Costs And Farmland Values Increase
August 4, 2014
Midwest sees spike in production costs’ Northern Plains land values increased by 16.3% Read More
Business PlanningHow To Secure A Farm Loan
August 1, 2014
From written plans to balance sheets, there are steps you need to take before moving forward with finances. Read More
Farm ManagementUse Social Marketing To Align Your Consumers With A Cau…
July 30, 2014
Social marketing aims to bring attention, support, and action to a cause, and can help increase your business’ bottom line. Read More