Tracing food one step forward

Do you know who receives all the produce you grow? A mock recall can be a good test of your recordkeeping system and provide valuable feedback on where you need to improve.

Once you have implemented a traceback protocol and recordkeeping system, the next step is to actually test how well it works. A mock recall is the true test of all the hard work of putting together an effective traceback protocol.

The goal of a mock recall is to be able to trace back a container of produce from the store or packer to the field it was picked from and then alert any other recipients of that produce that corrective action may need to be taken on produce that was picked from that field or block on that date.

Arrange for one of your buyers to give you two random container numbers and fax you the tags. Trace the numbers back to the harvest date and field they came from as well as any production practices, such as the irrigation sources used to irrigate the field throughout the growing season, that were used on that field and when they were used. It’s also important to find the harvest crew that was used to harvest the container number.

The second part of the recall process is to alert other recipients of the produce from that field on that harvest date. You’ll want to make a list of all buyers that were sent produce from that field on that date. As part of the mock recall, call each of these buyers and let them know you are conducting a mock recall and let them know the container numbers that came from the same field on the same date as the containers that were implicated. You should use this experience to help you adjust your record keeping system if you had trouble finding the buyer’s information or sources of harvest.

Remember that you have to specify what needs to be done with the produce in the event of an actual foodborne illness outbreak in your plan. In addition, you need to record that you conducted a mock audit.

If you have specific questions about mock audits or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at or 517-788-4292. To obtain a factsheet on mock audits, ask for guidance document AFSM008-01.

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