Under the "Partners In Quality" (PIQ) program, individual packing houses continually demonstrate and document their ability to pack product that meets all requirements of Federal and State laws and of their customers. Packers that ensure the quality in the finished product by designing and implementing a PIQ quality system may issue special Federal certificates daily or at a customerís request. The certificates indicate that the product was packed under a USDA-approved quality system. Effectiveness of the program is verified through periodic, unannounced audits of each packerís system by USDA-approved auditors.
Companies desiring to participate in PIQ develop a documented quality assurance system according to PIQ specifications, implement and follow the system, and grant the inspection service access to audit the system.
Shippers may choose PIQ or traditional quality inspection to obtain official certification, regardless of whether the certification is voluntary or required by Federal marketing orders. Additionally, certification requirements of other Federal, State, and local agencies can be included in a PIQ system with the concurrence of appropriate officials, enabling "one-stop shopping" for a variety of certification needs.
Benefits of choosing PIQ can include the following:
- Substantially lower inspection fees as the participants attain progressively higher levels of conformity with requirements and audits become less frequent;
- Greater flexibility as a company can ship when it wishes, after hours, weekends or holidays, without having to call for an inspector on overtime;
- More consistent product quality, which could attract new customers and increase business from present customers;
- Increased employee morale and pride, which could increase productivity and lower employee turnover;
- Potentially lower rates of repacking, rejection and claims at destination; and
- Increased international recognition of audit-based documented quality assurance systems.
For more information, contact:
Nathaniel W. (Chip) Taylor IV, Chief
Specialty Crops Inspection Division
USDA, AMS, Fruit and Vegetable Programs
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 1536-S, Stop 0240
Washington, D.C. 20250-0240
Phone: (800) 560-7956, Ext 5.
FAX: (202) 720-8871