Playlist on repeat, last check in the mirror, out the door you go headed to see your favorite band. You arrive at the venue ready to find the floor seats you secured, but there’s a quick detour to bag check. By now, we are all too familiar with having our bags checked or items inspected as part of daily processes in many areas of our life. Surely you recall the lengthy security process at the airport boarding your last flight home from holiday break. Whether attending an event, jet setting to a vacation spot or even resetting that often forgotten online password, there is a process in place to ensure our security, transparency and wellbeing. So why wouldn’t we apply certain procedures to the food we put into our bodies?
As you probably know, food verification and auditing are already happening. One check at the labels on the food you buy will turn up several claims that are being verified by third party companies like Where Food Comes From. But what goes into that process? While we can see security taking a quick look into our handbags or checking our pocket contents, we can’t see how the verification and auditing of our food works. Today we are here to put more clarity into that for you. So, pull up a seat at the table and grab your fork, this week we explore behind the scenes of our audit processes.
Who approves producers?
Customer Verification Specialists verify that farms and ranches are meeting the requirements of specific programs. A Customer Verification Specialist (CVS) is responsible for obtaining all of the correct documentation from farms and ranches prior to scheduling an auditor to visit their location. All programs, aside from Source Verification, which is done via a desk audit, are required to undergo an on-site audit. The CVS makes the final decision on approvals and the auditor they send out to the ranch simply reports their findings back to them.
Does someone go on-site to verify these things?
The CVS team will schedule auditors to go on site to review the checklist for certain programs. These programs can be non-hormone treated cattle, verified natural, animal welfare programs and more! Once the auditor is on-site, they spend time getting to know the operation. They review records, go over procedures, and visit pastures and pens. It is important to note that these programs are voluntary. The producer chooses to participate in these programs because they know that consumers care about where their food comes from and they want certain attributes in their food products – no hormones/antibiotics, animal welfare claims, non-gmo, etc.
Now you know!
The audit process can be rigorous and takes hard work and attention to detail on all sides, but without it, there would not be a way to provide transparency through labeling. From documentation that a CVS must sift through, to producer going above and beyond the traditional ways of running an operation, to sending auditors on-site, the verification process requires many honest, passionate, hard-working individuals. So the next time you choose to eat third-party verified products from Whole Foods or protein that has no antibiotics, you can rest assured that your product has been verified by many individuals that care.
Now that you are equipped with a bit more insight and knowledge on the actual audit process, we invite you to virtually follow along on some of the audits with us. Beginning this month, we will be highlighting a specific farm audit in our blog and on social media to give you some great photos and stories from our farmers and ranchers. We truly believe that every meal has a story, and we are excited to share them with you.