Karst chat with Dave Gombas: on harmonized standards and the puzzling case of listeria on cantaloupe

09/22/2011 03:33:00 PM
Tom Karst

11:12 a.m. Karst: So this calibration committee is in place? Those people are identified?

11:13 a.m. Gombas: Yes it has been identified. We had a first teleconference, but we haven’t’ had an actual meeting to develop the training materials. We’re hoping to get some of the training materials from groups who are already started training their auditors. USDA is using this audit for the benefit of one of the major foodservice companies, and they have already been training the auditors how to use it even though they recognize  that this may change. NSF has said they plan to use the standard starting this month and anyone who wants to use the harmonized standard, they will do audits according to that standard. USDA and NSF are not working together in training their auditors, so that is what this calibrating committee has to do; bring all the entities together and training them at the same time, and develop a training course so that those auditors can use those same training materials to train their auditors.

11:15 a.m. Karst: How many auditing firms will use the harmonized standard?

11:16 a.m. Gombas: We don’t know at this stage. USDA and NSF have committed to it. GlobalGAP is going to use the standard when we get it passed through their governing structure. SQF has said they will replace their module 7 - production agriculture - with a harmonized standard. And so their certification bodies would be using the harmonized standard.  All the folks that do audits for GlobalGAP,  all the folks that do agriculture audits for SQF in the U.S I would want to have at the table.

11:17 a.m.  Karst: So a lot of work has done into this process. When do you think it can start paying dividends as far as reducing the number of audits? How soon do you think it will have that effect in the market place?


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