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USDA Inspector refuses to comply with our procedures


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#1 nateolson1981

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 02:26 PM

One of our sites packages up sealed chicken cans into finished packaging. We have a usual USDA inspector that comes on site. He has been walking in and refusing to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and says he should not be escorted around the building. We are also SQF certified for a candy repackaging that we also do at this site as well and have the policy in place that everyone is to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and all visitors must be escorted by staff at all times. The USDA inspector says that he doesn't have to legally follow these processes that we have in place. He legally must be permitted on site whenever he wants and be able to go wherever he wants. I know that he can do that but I am not stopping him from doing that. I am just saying that he has to sign in and out, that he wears a visitors badge while on site, and that an employee is with him at all times while on site. Am I in the wrong for asking him to follow our visitor policy?



#2 Setanta

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 03:00 PM

I have USDA in my facility and I think you may be over stepping a bit.  You mentioned he is your usual guy.  He is not quite a visitor. He should wear a badge ID-ing or a smock him as USDA however.

 

I don 't think he needs to announce or record his visits, since he can be there at any time.  And having an employee with him at all times might prevent him from doing his job.  He had the right to ask questions and it is felt people may be less honest with another employee around.


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#3 Lori

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 03:05 PM

If he is assigned to your patrol he is not required to sign in from a legal or SQF perspective as he is not considered a visitor and does not need to wear a visitor badge. From a safety perspective, if he is not there everyday you need to know when he is in the plant in the event of an event of an emergency. Our facility is under continuous inspection and there will always be an inspector present so there is no sign in.

I have been in plants under intermittent inspection and the assigned inspector did not sign in but anyone that relieved them while on vacation or for a schedule change did sign in, but they did not wear a visitor badge since they had identifying clothing and bump caps.



#4 RMAV

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 05:30 PM

I agree with the above comments.  It might not hurt to apologize to the inspector that you were mistaken.  Most good ones know honest disagreements come up from time to time.  I've found it helps build credibility with them to admit when in error.



#5 nateolson1981

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 07:46 PM

Thank you for your responses! When I asked him for his input on the subject he was very rude and wouldn't give me direct answers. Glad I can count on you guys to help me out!



#6 RMAV

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 09:50 PM

"When I asked him for his input on the subject he was very rude and wouldn't give me direct answers."

 

Oh, yes, some of those folks are just a barrel of fun, aren't they? 



#7 MWidra

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 09:08 PM

One of our sites packages up sealed chicken cans into finished packaging. We have a usual USDA inspector that comes on site. He has been walking in and refusing to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and says he should not be escorted around the building. We are also SQF certified for a candy repackaging that we also do at this site as well and have the policy in place that everyone is to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and all visitors must be escorted by staff at all times. The USDA inspector says that he doesn't have to legally follow these processes that we have in place. He legally must be permitted on site whenever he wants and be able to go wherever he wants. I know that he can do that but I am not stopping him from doing that. I am just saying that he has to sign in and out, that he wears a visitors badge while on site, and that an employee is with him at all times while on site. Am I in the wrong for asking him to follow our visitor policy?

You are not wrong.  If he continues to refuse to follow your policies (which should be in your Food Defense Plan), I would call the district office and ask how to best solve this problem.  Be diplomatic, but say that you have concerns from a Food Defense and an OSHA point of view.

 

Good luck.

 

Martha


"...everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."  Viktor E. Frankl

 

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending."  The Muppets


#8 Lelouch_rayne

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 06:39 AM

I agree with MWidra. Rules are rules. No one is exempted even the VIP's.

 

The fact that he is not escorted around the building can pose a risk in your processing. What if he goes to places where contamination is likely to occur? 

 

Also, if he is just a visitor, I'm sure he is not really familiar with the site, what if something happens to him/her? Then, it would be a bigger problem.

 

Just saying.  :hypocrite:



#9 Zoe7h7

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 11:07 AM

SQF Certified as well. We have separate approved contractor lists and procedures for when contractors are in the plant. They attend heavier training, are informed of restricted access areas as it pertains to their jobs, are provided a contractor pass so they do not require management supervision and are required to have prior experience in a food processing plant. As part of food defense, they must sign in to the front before access. Your USDA inspector is still required to sign in to your facility. Tell your local office of the offence and bring your docs with you. Remind them of the potential bioterrorist risk as you cannot tell if he is tampering with products or not (a little extreme, but it does help). If he continues, remind him that he is trespassing onto your facility by not signing in or informing management of his whereabouts, and if he continues you will be required to go to the police. He is NOT an exception to your rules. FSMA is being implemented soon in the US, correct? This is a big problem for that. 

 

 

What the SQF Code says 2.7.1.1 The methods, responsibility and criteria for preventing food adulteration caused by a deliberate act of sabotage or terrorist-like incident shall be documented, implemented and maintained. 2.7.1.2 A food defense protocol shall be prepared and include:...The methods implemented to record and control access to the premises by employees, contractors, and visitors. 2.7.1 Implementation Guidance What does it mean? Section 2.7 is about site security, including food defense. The supplier must document and implement a plan to assure the security of the facility and the product from damage or adulteration from sabotage or terrorist-like incident. What do I have to do? This is a mandatory element. The supplier must designate a member of senior management who has responsibility for food defense. This responsible individual must assure that there are procedures in place for recording and controlling access to areas of the facility by employees, contractors and visitors.

 

Hope this helps in some regard!



#10 Charles.C

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 01:02 PM

Interesting variety of opinions.

 

I would have thought that USDA would have their own official instructions for their employees which would be a mutually agreed part of any "combined" overseeing operation.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#11 RMAV

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 12:06 PM

"Interesting variety of opinions."

 

Indeed.  It might be interesting to chart the opinions according to who has worked with USDA-FSIS inspectors and who has not.



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#12 MWidra

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 02:51 PM

Slightly off the USDA topic, but an interesting resource is an upcoming webinar.  It is about FDA inspectors and your rights at an inspection.  Obviously, FSIS is different, but still, it may be useful for people who will deal with newer FDA inspectors in these 2 years as FSMA is being implemented.

 

https://www.tracegai...e2-b15e9a9fc1b6

 

Martha


"...everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."  Viktor E. Frankl

 

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending."  The Muppets


#13 QUALITY22

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:18 PM

One of our sites packages up sealed chicken cans into finished packaging. We have a usual USDA inspector that comes on site. He has been walking in and refusing to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and says he should not be escorted around the building. We are also SQF certified for a candy repackaging that we also do at this site as well and have the policy in place that everyone is to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and all visitors must be escorted by staff at all times. The USDA inspector says that he doesn't have to legally follow these processes that we have in place. He legally must be permitted on site whenever he wants and be able to go wherever he wants. I know that he can do that but I am not stopping him from doing that. I am just saying that he has to sign in and out, that he wears a visitors badge while on site, and that an employee is with him at all times while on site. Am I in the wrong for asking him to follow our visitor policy?

 

Tough topic- I have gone through this also. I am asking myself countless times and have been told to Pick and choose your battles. Example-At my 2nd company out of college- Egg Producer in NY- Same issue happened and my colleague contacted the supervisor. From that point on we were given NRs' almost everyday other day or at minimum weekly for the littlest of things.  

 

Our USDA inspector keeps saying I do not know HACCP. What does that even mean? The fact that I have passed countless of GFSI (SQF, FSSC) and FDA, Military, customer based audits, (NESTLE, UNILEVER,) does not mean anything to them.

 

Our consultant always says a USDA inspector could not get a job at Mcdonalds LOL.



#14 FurFarmandFork

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 04:04 PM

Your IPP has to comply with your rules per Directive 5060.1 which is current as of September, 2016.

 

Quote

This directive instructs inspection program personnel (IPP) to comply fully with the sanitary and hygiene procedures and biosecurity measures put in place by an official meat or poultry establishment, an egg products plant, or an official import inspection establishment that these facilities also require of all of their employees. FSIS previously issued these instructions in FSIS Notice 17-15, FSIS Program Personnel Hygiene and Biosecurity Practices.

 

 

I agree with the other posters that your usda inspector is not a "visitor". They should only need to comply with those requirements you have of your employees, and they certainly should not need an escort. Build a relationship and use them as another auditing mechanism to help get eyes on your employees, it's nice when your inspector gives your a "heads up" on a finding rather than an NR because you let them walk free and help make your facility better.

 

Your current "escorted visitor" policy makes them the enemy, rather than a food safety ally. Even if they're not a great one. That rubs inspectors the wrong way.


Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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#15 pablo coronel

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 01:52 PM

I think there are several points on your post; and it all boils down to how things are said more than anything.
If I was in your shoes, I would apologize and try to make it good and ask him to follow the same proceudres your personnel must follow to enter the production area

 

-. USDA/FSIS inspector have the legal right and duty to inspect your place whenever they want; and to go anywhere in the plant

Please be aware that they are there to help, not to antagonize and thus the more respect you offer them the better
 

-. As you said he is your "usual" inspector, so he is in a category similar to your QA personnel, thus no visitor's badge or escort is needed.

He has to follow the GMP procedures in your facility.

 

-. They don't have to sign in-out; however if your facility uses keyfobs or electronic-badges for opening doors, I would extend one for him and ask whether he wants to keep ti with him or leave it with your receptionist 

In that way you can document when the inspectors come in-out; or ask your rceptionist to document the in-out times

 

 

One of our sites packages up sealed chicken cans into finished packaging. We have a usual USDA inspector that comes on site. He has been walking in and refusing to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and says he should not be escorted around the building. We are also SQF certified for a candy repackaging that we also do at this site as well and have the policy in place that everyone is to sign in, wear a visitors badge, and all visitors must be escorted by staff at all times. The USDA inspector says that he doesn't have to legally follow these processes that we have in place. He legally must be permitted on site whenever he wants and be able to go wherever he wants. I know that he can do that but I am not stopping him from doing that. I am just saying that he has to sign in and out, that he wears a visitors badge while on site, and that an employee is with him at all times while on site. Am I in the wrong for asking him to follow our visitor policy?



#16 Jose 007

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 12:21 PM

Now, your answer makes me a bit confused. I think we should all start first by defining what a visitor is based on SQF or based from any other standards. from there we can start arguing whether the USDA guy is covered or not by the rules. As for our plant, we adhere to our policy. Any one who is not a member of any of the regular pool of personnel working inside our plant on a daily basis is considered a visitor. And being a visitor, the requirements on visitor apply to him/her.



#17 SQFconsultant

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 01:41 PM

The USDA inspector is by classification a service provider, thus not a visitor.

 

I don't know of any client of ours that has USDA inspectors where the inspector does not sign in and out.

 

They are not above following your in-house food defense requirements and you can file a complaint with their regional office.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

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