If you know what to look for on a USDA inspection certificate it can tell you a whole lot more than if the product met contract specification or not. A USDA inspection can reveal all kinds of interesting information. Here are my top four checks to get you started.
1. If your customer has given up his/her right to reject or not.
For one, an inspection can tell you whether or not your customer has already accepted the product in question and given up their right to reject. I have linked in a sample USDA inspection, LINK, where clues can be located on the inspection certificate. Notice that the carrier or lot i.d. in box #10 reflects a P.O. number, and in box #9, the product indicates that it was unloaded. Therefore in this instant case there is evidence to reflect that the buyer by unloading the product accepted it and therefore gave up its right to reject.
2. If the inspection was made in a timely fashion.
Another interesting clue can be found in box #2, which reflects time and date of inspection. What is interesting to note in this section is that the inspection office places the actual time that the inspection was requested, along with the start time and completed time of the inspection. This is important because if your product were to arrive on a Monday at contract destination, and the request for the inspection was not made until that Wednesday, this would indicate to you that your customer waited 2 to 3 days before requesting a USDA inspection whereby it would not be a timely inspection and therefore the inspection might not be given any consideration.
3. If the correct shipment was inspected.
Box #3 of the sample inspection also provided critical information, especially when multiple shipments have been sent to the same customer within weeks or days of each other. Always refer to the number of cartons that you actually shipped, verse the number of cartons purported on the USDA inspection certificate. Also verify that the proper label and lot identification numbers are ones you have assigned to make sure that they are inspecting products associated with the shipment in question.
4. If your shipment met contract specifications.
Box #6 refers to the grade, however, if the inspection certificate indicates that the product failed to grade U.S. No. 1, it is not necessarily an indication as to whether or not the product met contract specifications upon arrival. Yes it failed to grade U.S. No. 1, but what were your contract specifications? If it was a FOB no grade contract, you might be well within tolerance. In addition, under the grade it gives a lot description, you will note that it also refers to the range of temperatures pulp by the inspector here as well as in box #8, showing temperatures from 41º to 40ºF.
The moral of the story is when reviewing a USDA inspection, remember to look at the condition defects along with the quality defects, but also check all other aspects of the information provided on the inspection; it will give you clues to help determine how a disputed problem can hopefully be resolved.
As always should you have any questions when reviewing a USDA inspection, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at 949-885-2269.