October 26, 2018

Eliminating Challenges via Electronic Record-Keeping

{Sponsored} Paper record audits are slow, unreliable and expensive. Consider the hard costs — time searching for records, labor costs associated with preparing for that audit; what else factors in? What are the chances that there were errors in handwritten paper records? How will those errors factor into the audit’s results? When Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are required to be documented, paper documentation often means lab tests need to be run to ascertain residue levels on produce. There has to be a better way to keep and transmit records — especially when growers and producers need to adapt processes due to requirements from the government.

What’s more, with the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA will require records be produced within hours rather than days or weeks. If data is shelved in binders, that is a tall task. “By compiling data electronically, you can rapidly query against a MRL or particular product in a certain format. You can be sure you’re complying with PHI (preharvest interval) and get that information instantaneously,” said Richard Machado, president at Agrian Inc.

Besides the distinct challenges associated with paper records, using a paper trail causes another conflict. Growers want to do the job they love. “Being required to increase documents for safety and sustainability means that growers are just pushing paperwork. The processors, in turn, have to find a way to gather all of the information in the easiest format that is easiest for growers to comply with,” Machado said.

Good news: there’s a solution for food processors to all of these issues. Software platforms are now available that allow MRLs to be tracked, crop forecasting to be accurate and hazards to be identified before they impact your bottom line. Risk mitigation is the name of the game, and Agrian’s software is the link between field, processor and shipper.

How does it work?

One platform is a central hub for all groups involved in the process of getting produce from field to fork: Agrian. This platform is an indispensable tool for grower management in many food processors’ field departments. It is also built on the back of more than 11,000 indexed labels, making Agrian’s compliance engine the largest manufacturer-indemnified label database in the world and an exclusive partner with the Global MRL Database through Bryant Christie Inc.

When produce is processed for export, it becomes even more complicated to be certain the current standards for that export region are followed. “On the West Coast, we find that a lot of growers are not even doing the reports. They rely upon a crop adviser who has made a recommendation based on knowledge of what is needed for export. The advantage of moving to electronic record-keeping is that with Agrian, there is a network between the crop adviser, grower and processor for seamless data movement. Once it is set up, you get regular data as it happens. The moment produce has surpassed the MRL, an alert is sent out to all parties involved. This saves significant time and money,” Machado said.

As of right now, 60-to-70 percent of growers work electronically. A processor simply needs to submit a list of growers with which they work to Agrian, and Agrian will verify which growers on the list are already utilizing the platform. “We received a list of 120 growers a citrus packer uses. 118 of those were already utilizing the platform,” Machado said.

The biggest challenge for packers and shippers is adopting platforms like this. However, the upstream demands from consumers and retailers for the data provided by Agrian’s Processor Accounts makes the switch a no-brainer. “A prudent buyer knows that this information is necessary, and it cannot be provided via paper trails. With future FSMA requirements, electronic records will be one of the mandates,” Machado said. Utilizing a platform touching the largest certification database, the grower network, crop advisers and everyone in between will be essential for conquering this transition.

For more information about Agrian, visit Agrian.com

© 2018 Agrian, Inc.

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