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
Operation Outdoor Freedom participants
CitrusFlorida Proud To Be Home Of The Brave [Opinion]
May 25, 2015
Operation Outdoor Freedom invites wounded service members and veterans of the U.S. military to enjoy recreational activities in state forests and on private lands. Read More
FruitsQ&A With Penn State’s New Young Grower Alliance Coordinator
May 22, 2015
Erin Dugan recently joined Penn State University extension as a specialty crop innovations program manager and Young Grower Alliance coordinator. Read More
FruitsHow To Start A Young Grower Association
May 22, 2015
You have recently returned to your family’s business. You have friends and family you can tap for their knowledge and Read More
Expansion groundbreaking for Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
CitrusSouthwest Florida Research And Education Center Embracing New Expansion
May 20, 2015
A 7,000-square-foot addition to the UF/IFAS facility will house labs and offices for potential new faculty members. Read More
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More
Food SafetyProduce Safety Alliance Offers Course To Become A Certified Trainer
May 20, 2015
The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) has announced dates for their first two Train-the-Trainer courses this June. The first of the Read More
Apples & PearsGrants Available For Farmworker Education
May 19, 2015
Grants are available for farmworkers and their families interested in attending adult educational programs through the Washington Apple Educational Foundation Read More
The Latest
CitrusPMA Comments On FDA’s Proposed FSMA Implementation Work…
May 27, 2015
In written comments submitted today to the FDA proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation work plans (Focus on Implementation Read More
Expansion groundbreaking for Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
CitrusSouthwest Florida Research And Education Center Embraci…
May 20, 2015
A 7,000-square-foot addition to the UF/IFAS facility will house labs and offices for potential new faculty members. Read More
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More
CitrusBad Weather Or Not, Preparation Always On Radar For Flo…
May 19, 2015
You cannot prevent a natural disaster from taking everything you have, but you can lessen the blow if and when it happens. Read More
Wes Roan of Lipman Produce talks with participants of FFVA's Spring Regulatory Tour.
CitrusFlorida Farming Show & Tell Earns Regulators’…
May 15, 2015
FFVA's annual Spring Regulatory Tour allows those who write regulations controlling water, crop protection chemicals, food safety, and more an opportunity to see production practices firsthand. Read More
CitrusReport: Florida Agriculture Property Values Remain Firm
May 12, 2015
Lay of the land confirms farm tracts are good investment. Read More
CitrusImportant Crop Insurance Deadline Nearing For Growers
May 12, 2015
Specialty crop, other producers need to certify conservation compliance by June 1. Read More
CitrusAbout 58,000 Jobs In Agriculture And Related Fields Are…
May 12, 2015
National report says the jobs reflect a need for a skilled and trained workforce to support a growing population. Read More
Lightning
CitrusWet Season Off To Extremely Early Start In South Florid…
May 1, 2015
Some areas saw more than 200% above-average rainfall during April. Read More
Farm ManagementRemembering Ag’s Labor Needs [opinion]
April 30, 2015
Everybody is talking about the drought, and rightfuly so, but there’s another potential problem looming that could impact growers all over Read More
University of California-Davis
CitrusWorld’s Best Agriculture Colleges Ranking Revealed
April 29, 2015
Annual report card distinguishes which schools are excelling by subject area. Read More
CitrusTrimble Acquires HarvestMark To Assist With Food Tracea…
April 28, 2015
The goals of the acquisition ato provide more benefits to producers, add value to distribution centers, and provide a tool for tracking products in the food industry. Read More
Havana, Cuba view
CitrusRenewed Relations With Cuba A Concern For Florida Growe…
April 23, 2015
It might be said Sunshine State producers are worried if wider trade is opened as the potential for competing winter crops is real. Read More
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
CitrusForecasters Predict Historically Weak Atlantic Hurrican…
April 9, 2015
Extended range outlook cites El Niño as culprit in what could be one of the least active seasons in recent memory. Read More
One World Challenge Wall
CitrusToday’s Youth Set To Sustain The World [Opinion]
April 9, 2015
A select group of University of Florida students are thinking of innovative ways to meet the challenges of supporting 9+ billion people on Earth by 2050. Read More
CitrusRainfall Relief Welcomed Across South Florida
April 3, 2015
Below-average precipitation for the region during March helps lower high water levels from what has been a rather wet Dry Season. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $31 Million In Grants To Help SNAP Particip…
April 1, 2015
Funding supports programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program afford healthy foods. Read More