Assessment Report of Costa Rica's Food Safety Control System for Fresh Fruit
6.0 Food safety program requirements
The CFIA team observed that under the regulations, there are no requirements for farms, packing and processing facilities to have a food safety program in place. However, the MOH and SFE regulations do require operations to comply with GAPs (farms) and GMPs/GHPs (packing facilities).
The MOH is responsible for approving all food processing facilities (including packers) by issuing a sanitary operating permit. This is based on verification of compliance with GHPs/GMPs.
Operators apply for a sanitary operating permit by submitting an application form, a declaration/affidavit signed by the company, emergency plan and corporate ID. The permit is valid for 1 year at which time the operator must resubmit their application if they choose to reapply. The MOH usually takes 1 month to review the application. The MOH is required to conduct an inspection prior to issuing a permit for high risk foods such as FF. Once the MOH issues the permit, an EM from the local office conducts an inspection to verify the information submitted in their application. In the case of NCs, the EM requires a corrective action within a timeframe appropriate to the NC. Once the corrective actions are addressed by the facility, the EM reviews them for completeness. During the on-site inspection, the EM inspects/reviews food safety and non-food safety components of the facility including the exterior of the facility, equipment/utensils, hygiene controls, pest controls, sanitation controls, GMPs etc. The inspection is based on a points system with the highest points representing a good system. Facilities are classified as A or B based on the risk of their products and facility.
Inspections are generally conducted according to the level of risk which is defined in the CATR. Inspections may occur to confirm GMPs/GHPs for the purpose of granting/verifying the conditions of an operating permit, or, to follow up on complaints. The MOH may conduct an unannounced inspection at any time.
The CFIA team observed that the SFE does not issue any formal permit/certificate which allows farms or packing facilities to operate. However, during the growing/packing season, each facility is frequently inspected by the SFE's Regional inspectors. Regional inspectors review the policies and procedures, GAPs (in the fields), and GHPs/GMPs (in packing facilities). They may also sample FF for chemical residue testing. If a positive result is detected, the company is required to investigate the source of the contamination. If a follow up sample is positive, the MOH is contacted.
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