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
James Olmstead
GenNext GrowersGenNext Researchers: James Olmstead
October 3, 2015
As the next generation of growers become leaders and decision makers in their own operations, they won’t have to make Read More
stressed out female who has hit her breaking point
GenNext GrowersHow To Keep Your Cool When Under Fire On The Farm
October 1, 2015
Whether it be a foodborne illness or a serious worker accident, sometime in your career you’re probably going to face a crisis, and you’d better be ready. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple’s “Buy an Apple, Help a Student” Campaign Off To Healthy Start
September 30, 2015
Already U.S. Apple Association (USApple)’s fall seasonal campaign is off with a bang. With 11 school projects from across the Read More
Farm ManagementThree Congressional Priorities For Potato Growers
September 30, 2015
The National Potato Council says to ask your Congressional representatives to support the potato industry on issues such as voluntary GMO labelding, truck weight reform, and funding for breeding research. Read More
Apples & PearsWith Agritainment, Everybody’s A Critic
September 30, 2015
This time of year brings a renewed interest in everything apples — apple pies, cider, apple-scented candles. So it’s no Read More
CitrusEPA Announces Children Under 18 Can No Longer Handle Pesticides
September 29, 2015
EPA is announcing stronger protections for the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers and their families working on farms, forests, nurseries, Read More
CitrusNext Generation Growers Programs Get $8.8 Million From USDA
September 29, 2015
USDA announced the allocation of $8.4 million to support the work of 54 partner organizations in 35 states to provide Read More
The Latest
Farm ManagementThree Congressional Priorities For Potato Growers
September 30, 2015
The National Potato Council says to ask your Congressional representatives to support the potato industry on issues such as voluntary GMO labelding, truck weight reform, and funding for breeding research. Read More
2015 FFVA Annual Convention crowd
CitrusCurrent Trends Top Conversation At Florida Fruit & …
September 28, 2015
Invasive pests, politics, water, and GMOs stoke the fire at FFVA's annual gathering. Read More
CitrusClimate Change Consensus Extends Beyond Climate Scienti…
September 28, 2015
Researcher says the study is the first to highlight agreement on human-caused climate change is reaching the broader scientific community. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Commits $2.5 Million To Expand New Farmer Educatio…
September 23, 2015
Training will also help returning service members and urban producers. Read More
Goshen College campus farm
Farm ManagementBest College Farms Battle It Out In National Ranking
September 21, 2015
Scores based on hands-on experiences, student involvement, degree plan options, and more. Read More
rose and a fallen petal
Farm ManagementA Farmer’s Road To Riches Is No Bed Of Roses
September 21, 2015
Proactivity is the best way to take advantage when growth opportunities present themselves. Read More
Thumbs up and thumbs down
CitrusThe Last Decade: A Total Disaster, Rousing Success For …
September 18, 2015
The last 10 years were far from perfect, but we can still strive for 2025. Read More
CitrusDrought Costing California $1.84 Billion This Year
September 16, 2015
California agriculture will lose $1.84 billion and 10,100 jobs in 2015 because of the drought, according to the University of Read More
Business Planning10 Tips To Help Deal With Financial Difficulties On The…
September 13, 2015
These 10 pointers are designed to prepare you financially for changes in the agricultural economy. Read More
NOAA Temperature Outlook For Winter 2015-2016
CitrusForecast: El Niño Likely To Stay Through Spring
September 11, 2015
Climate pattern-fueled extremes could have big impact in certain parts of the U.S. Read More
graph showing growth
CitrusFlorida’s Agriculture-Related Jobs Jump 8.7%
September 11, 2015
Report confirms farming, food, and natural resource industries as state’s largest employer. Read More
CitrusWhole-Farm Revenue Protection Insurance To Be Available…
August 31, 2015
USDA offers greater flexibility for beginning, organic and fruit and vegetable growers. Read More
drought management; irrigation; water management
CitrusClear Up Misconceptions About Water Use In Ag
August 31, 2015
Those in the industry need to to clear up misconceptions about water use in agriculture. Read More
Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg
CitrusCounting Down The Top U.S. Colleges For Natural Resourc…
August 25, 2015
STEM-fueled area of study presents wide field of opportunity for future grads. Read More
Charlotte's Web-medical marijuana in greenhouse
CitrusMedical Marijuana Endeavor Anything But Pipe Dream For …
August 20, 2015
While applicants await fate for one of the five available licenses to weave ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ best-case-scenarios play out. Read More
CitrusMaps Show Impending Impact From WOTUS
August 19, 2015
Plots indicate expansion of EPA’s reach across Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Montana. Read More
branches covered in ice
CitrusWicked Winter Coming This Way Says Latest Farmer’s Alma…
August 17, 2015
Super El Niño-influenced weather patterns align to paint a less-than-pretty portrait. Read More
man trying to prevent from being boxed in by boxes
CitrusEconomic Progress A Threat To Box In Agriculture [Opini…
August 11, 2015
For growers, buffer zones, noise ordinances, nutrient runoff concerns, and sinkhole threats all are factors heightened with nearby neighbors. Instead of trying to beat them, why not join them? Read More