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  • Arizona LGMA

Five Questions with Kevin Watson

Late last year, Arizona Leafy Greens named Kevin Watson as its new compliance officer. Kevin began his career in 1999, following the passing of the Food Safety Protection Act in 1996. Over the course of his more than 20 years in food safety, he held positions with the Arizona Department of Agriculture, piloting a food safety program in Sinaloa, Mexico and in the private sector at Fresh Express where he worked for 14 years. He has also served as a member of the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Technical Subcommittee where he was responsible for reviewing and recommending modifications and changes to the Metrics.

Kevin has returned to Arizona LGMA as a compliance officer. Now he helps to protect the integrity of the state’s leafy greens by reviewing scheduled and unannounced audits that occur each season. He assesses each potential violation and works with shippers, growers and harvesters to ensure corrective action is taken to verify compliance with the latest iteration of the Metrics. We asked Kevin 5 questions about his new role and about his passion for food safety.

1. How many audits do you review each season?

This is my first season as the Arizona Leafy Greens Compliance Officer. To this point, I have reviewed 35 audits and I expect to complete over 100 compliance reviews this season.

2. How long does it take you to review a typical audit?

Audits are sometimes complex. The average review takes about 2 hours. Afterward there is the follow up communications as well as a review of corrective actions to gauge if the corrective actions taken are acceptable for the nonconformity.

3. What is the most common violation or deviation that you have seen this season?

The most common deviation is a Minor Deviation that is usually corrected in a timely manner with low risk or very little impact to the process.

4. What’s the most rewarding thing about being a compliance officer?

It is rewarding to achieve my goal of zero nonconformities via the corrective action plan and communications with shippers, growers, harvesters and packers.

5. What is your food safety philosophy?

Food safety requires diligence on the part of the food safety professional, keeping up on the newest regulations and requirements is key to a proper food safety program. Additionally, controlling the documents to track the actions required to grow, harvest, pack and ship fresh produce to the nation from Arizona, the winter salad bowl, to our consumers.

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