Employee Spotlight: 10 Things to Know About Kevin Delgado, Food Safety Processing Supervisor

Kevin joined our Food Safety & Quality Assurance team two-and-a-half years ago as our Food Safety Processing Supervisor, overseeing many day-to-day food safety operations at our Castroville cooler. Keep reading to learn more about Kevin, his role, and some of our Food Safety protocols in-action!

1. How did you get started at OMF?

I joined Ocean Mist Farms two-and-a-half years ago as a Food Safety Processing Supervisor. I primarily oversee the Food Safety practices occurring within the Castroville cooler, particularly in the value-added room where foodservice packs and retail items like Season & Steam are washed, processed, and packed.

My current role in Food Safety has been focused on this stage of our supply chain whereas many of my Food Safety colleagues are “boots on the ground” in the fields. Although our team is spread out, it’s important that we are all well versed in the various food safety practices occurring in every stage of our supply chain.

{ For another perspective on Ocean Mist Farms Food Safety, read our employee spotlight featuring our Director of Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Lisa Fuentes)

2. How did you get started in Food Safety?

Prior to joining Ocean Mist Farms, I worked at Jackpot Harvesting in Gonzalez, CA. Although I initially signed on to work an office job, the smaller size of the company allowed me to gain exposure to many different internal departments like Food Safety. After gaining more experience in food safety, a colleague referred me to Ocean Mist Farms when this Food Safety Processing Supervisor position became available… and the rest is history!

3. What does your day-to-day as Food Safety Processing Supervisor look like?

Simply put, nothing about my role in Food Safety is the same day in and day out. However, there’s consistency in the processes that happen such as pre-ops checks, documenting inspections, conducting trainings, and working cross-functionally to ensure Food Safety standards are upheld to the highest degree.

4. Tell us about pre-ops checks. What are they and why are they important?

Every morning at 6am, our team of Quality Controllers (QCs) conduct visual and ATP-reader cleaning inspections on all value-added room surfaces. Our team is also responsible for testing the automated equipment to ensure all washers, optical sorters, conveyer belts and metal detector equipment are working correctly.

Quality Controllers (QCs) conduct early morning pre=ops checks with flashlights, ATP readers and prepare all surfaces before the value-added room operations can begin.

These pre-operation food safety checks ensure our Sanitation team thoroughly disinfected all surfaces ahead of production and to prevent foreign objects. If there’s room for improvement, the surface(s) are recleaned, retested, and documented until the entire facility is deemed production-ready.

5. Why is documenting so important to food safety?

Documenting provides us with the metrics essential to be proactive, not reactive, in maintaining superior food safety standards.

As we say in our department: “if it’s not documented it didn’t happen.” Across the board, every food safety test done, inspection conducted, and feedback received from a customer is recorded in a specific way to uphold the highest Food Safety practices, be able to provide to outside agencies on a moment’s notice, and as the way to course-correct further up in the supply chain where necessary. In the unlikely event that a bolt breaks off a piece of equipment, for instance, the metal detector equipment will force the foreign object off the conveyer belt and put our team on notice to quickly identify the source and take corrective action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

6. What internal departments and external people do you usually work with the most?

Internally, I work with Maintenance, Sanitation, and Cooler personnel, and most of all with Quality Assurance. Externally, my team works with retail consumer response teams, packaging vendors and sanitations suppliers to ensure they maintain food safety compliance, and outside government agencies like the FDA for routine inspections.

7. It seems like there’s a lot of overlap with Quality Assurance. Can you talk about your work with them?

Quality Assurance and Food Safety are different departments, yet our functions are becoming more intertwined to have more eyes on the ground. In the value-added room, for instance, our Quality Controllers (QCs) are not just monitoring and documenting the quality output of the commodities being washed, cut, and shredded. The QCs also ensure all machinery is properly cleaned to our Food Safety standards and tested when switching from cauliflower floret to broccoli floret processing throughout the day, for example.

Quality Controllers (QCs) are important for our Food Safety practices. The QC pictured above is using a collector swab on a piece of equipment in the value-added room to run in the ATP reader to evaluate whether or not the equipment is ready for production use.

8. What are some of the challenges of your team?

Our Food Safety Specialists and Quality Controllers are experts at what they do, many of them have been doing their respective roles well before I joined the company. One of the main challenges for our team is correcting old habits with food safety processes as they evolve and improve.

For this very reason, our Food Safety and Quality Assurance teams hold monthly meetings to review cleaning agents (sometimes we even conduct our own internal studies on the different types!), equipment cleaning processes, consumer response-related matters, and any food safety protocol modifications to ensure our entire team is on the same page.

9. Three words to describe your role?

Ever-changing, fast-paced, awareness.

10. Last favorite show or movie you streamed that you’d recommend?

Squid Games on Netflix- a horror series just in time for October!

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Julie Criswell
Julie has been connected to Ocean Mist Farms for half of her life! When she was 9, she participated in the Artichoke Festival’s Agro-art competition for the first time, and every year until she went to college in Chicago. Now, two years after her summer internship with us, she’s officially aboard our marketing team full-time. Enjoy her perspective of life in the produce lane!
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