Compliance dates are quickly approaching for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. There is still some confusion regarding the purpose of the rule, compliance dates and the produce that is covered under the rule. Here are four things you need to know to better understand the rule.
- Why is this rule necessary?
Foodborne illness due to contaminated produce has caused the need for a modern Produce Safety Rule. This rule ensures food safety from the very beginning to try to prevent illnesses from happening. According to the FDA, an estimated 332,000 illnesses per year are expected to be prevented by the rule.
- What produce is covered, and what produce is not?
All kinds of produce are covered by the Produce Safety Rule, except those that meet the following exceptions given by the FDA:
- Produce that is grown for personal or on-farm consumption
- Produce that is not a “raw agricultural commodity” (An agricultural commodity is any food in its raw or natural state.)
- Produce that will receive commercial processing that reduces microorganisms of public health concern is eligible for exemption under certain conditions.
- Produce that is on the “rarely consumed raw” list (https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2015-28159/p-2005)
- What are the compliance dates?
According to the FDA, compliance dates after the effective date of the final rule (November 2015) are as follows:
- Very small businesses (more than $25,000, but no more than $250,000 in average annual produce sales during the previous three-year period): four years from November 2015
- Small businesses (more than $250,000, but no more than $500,000 in average annual produce sales during the previous three-year period): three years from November 2015
- All other farms: two years from November 2015
- What if farmers need help meeting the requirements?
The FDA has been working to ensure there are plenty of resources, trainings and assistance available for growers to use in order to correctly comply with the Produce Safety Rule. This month, growers have an opportunity to attend a Produce Safety Alliance grower training course on April 20 in Tavares, Florida. Get more information on the event here.
Visit the FDA website for more information on the Produce Safety Rule.
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