Actually these steps can be used for just about any perishable product if the time is taken to develop an internal buying strategy that supports farm to table safety and traceability.
Many of our supermarket chains and other retailers that sell fresh eggs are huge companies with thousands of locations. In order to support their customers their perishable inventory turnover has to be fast and efficient and come from multiple sources. Tracing the product to the original sources is one thing. It is entirely another thing to ensure safety and to understand not only where the product comes from but how that source conducts their business. This can and should include supplier visits and audits as well as a well structured set of questions that a farmer or distributor should be required to answer before a product goes on your shelf.
If you can’t answer some of the questions listed below, you are not being fair to your consumer or your company.
1. What type of egg farm do your eggs come from?
2. What’s the hen population of each farm?
3. What are hen living conditions such as size of cage?
4. What’s the average laying life of the hens at your source?
5. How much living space does each hen have?
6. How and what are the hens fed?
7. Do you know where the feed comes from to its original source?
8. What safety tests are conducted regularly as part of the farms business?
9. Are tests for multiple strains of salmonella conducted?
10. Has one of your supplier’s farms ever tested positive for salmonella?
11. What happens when a positive test occurs?
12. How does your farm monitor or ensure air quality for their hen population?
13. How long does it take from the time an egg is laid until it reaches the supermarket shelf?
14. How long are eggs stored prior to shipping and at what temperature?
15. What cleaning processes are used once eggs are laid?
16. Are hens caged or cage free?
17. How many inspections are conducted at the farm annually, and by whom?
18. Have any of your farms ever failed an inspection? If so why?
19. What is done to keep hens’ disease free?
20. What type of waste removal system does the farm employ?
21. Does the farm have any bio control practices in place?
22. Has the farm or farms that you source from won any awards?
23. Do the farms you source from maintain any regularly reviewed certifications?
These questions can be reworked for just about any farming environment and retail buyers that source these products should be able to do it with very little help. How much better would your company feel if they had positive responses to these questions on record for each farm in your supply chain that was regularly updated?
We look forward to and appreciate your comments.