Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Program operates under a cooperative agreement between the State of Minnesota and the USDA. The program inspects fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and ornamental crops based on USDA established U.S. standards for commodities, and certifies the various grades for each commodity. Inspections are performed for any financially interested party in the world including growers, packers, shippers, brokers, transporters, and receivers. Inspections ensure that the commodities meet the specifications and or grades that have been agreed on and U.S. Standard requirements. Providing unbiased third party inspections ensures that the proper quality of produce is being delivered, and receiver and grower contracts are being met. This results in protection for both grower and receiver, and lower costs to the public. The Fruit and Vegetable Inspection staff is federally licensed by the USDA and have the authority to inspect all commodities from around the world.
These inspections and certificates are the main document that the PACA (Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act) a division of the USDA, needs to settle disputes and claims of bought and sold fruits and vegetables. Application for inspections must be requested within 24 hours of receiving the product. Generally all applications for inspection will be performed within 8 business hours of your request. Results of inspections are reported on USDA form FV 300.
Fruit and vegetable program staff provides daily inspection service to a local process plant of all incoming raw potatoes and sweet potatoes. This service consists of weighing and washing samples, determining percentages of sizes, external defects, internal defects, bruise free, unusable, and specific gravity for each lot. A certificate is issued stating the percentage of US No 1 and US No 2 quality. These percentages are the basis of grower compensation for their product. It is crucial that these inspection services are provided by an unbiased third party program to ensure that fair trade is conducted between grower and receiver.
A new electronic inspection program has been implemented this year to increase efficiency.
Results of inspection are reported on an electronic numbered certificate.
Inspections are provided to growers in the eastern half of Minnesota providing growers with mandatory potato inspection and certification for destinations within Canada. In addition, inspections are provided for seed potato growers needing mandatory inspections for destinations outside Minnesota. Shipping point inspection is done at the producer and while the product is being packed to determine if grade is being met. This is being reported on USDA certificate FV 184 or FV205.
Inspectors take notes on arrival for inspection of type of load, where load is located, and any loading statements if needed. Temperatures of product is taken in various locations throughout the load and recorded on note sheets. Representative product sampling from a load is taken. Individual product specimens from the selected samples are inspected for defects. Defects are identified and severity is determined. Individual findings of samples are recorded on note sheet and final calculations of defects are determined. Percentages are calculated and used against an established US Grade Standard to determine if that grade or percentage of grade has been met. All information in the inspection is recorded on note sheets and reported on USDA certificates.
Any financially interested party in a lot of Fruits, Vegetables, Raw Nuts, or Ornamental Crops may request an inspection for proper grading and certification of their product.
Any grower, packer, transporter, receiver, repacker, or any other handler of fresh fruits and vegetables can request to be audited for the USDA GAP/GHP Audit Program
Food safety has become very important in the United States because vendors and consumers are demanding that preventative measures have been implemented and audited to ensure safety of the fruits and vegetables they buy, sell, or eat.
The USDA has established a national audit based program to meet these needs. The USDA Good Agricultural Practices / Good Handling Practices Audit Program was established to provide unbiased third party audits of agricultural and handling practices of fresh fruits and vegetables. These audits help the fruit and vegetable producer or the handler of fruits and vegetables to reduce produce contamination. Many retailers and processors are making it mandatory that any supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to them must have passed a third party food safety audit.
Fruit and Vegetable Inspection program staff is licensed by the USDA to provide these audits for any growers, shippers, receivers, and re packers in Minnesota. These audits consist of asking questions, reviewing documentation, and onsite viewing of warehouse, storage, packing, and transportation facilities.
The audit consists of all or any combination of the following:
Applicants can be audited for all or just individual parts that pertain to their operation. A passing score of 80% is required on each part. Results of passing are posted on the USDA's website.
Food Safety is continually growing and could eventually be a necessity to handle fruits and vegetables in the future.
This year all audits are being provided electronically.
For more information, questions, or to schedule an audit please contact: 651 201-6067
Check out the latest copy of USDA's List of Audited Companies and Audit Checklist and Cornell University Produce Safety Alliance
Plant Protection Division