FDA Releases FSMA Produce Safety, FSVP, and Third-Party Accreditation Rules
- by Christofer Oberst
SILVER SPRING, MD – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has laid out a series of groundbreaking rules that will fundamentally change best practices for food safety in the produce industry.
The long-awaited regulations will set federal standards for produce farms and make importers accountable for ensuring that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.
FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael R. Taylor said that these rules will help prevent the foodborne outbreaks and better provide assurance to consumers that their food is safe.
“The rules will help better protect consumers from foodborne illness and strengthen their confidence that modern preventative practices are in place, no matter where in the world the food is produced,” he said in a press release.
The new rules are referred to as the Produce Safety rule, the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule, and the Accredited Third-Party Certification rule.
Produce Safety Rule
Under the produce rule, which can be read in full by clicking here, states that businesses must test for water quality, as well as train employees on best health and hygiene practices.
Farmers must conduct an initial survey of their water – a minimum of 20 samples – over the course of two to four years after the rules take effect. A minimum of 5 samples per year is required after that.
The FDA has identified a number of produce categories that are exempt from this rule, as they are rarely consumed raw. These items include asparagus; black beans, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, and pinto beans; garden beets (roots and tops) and sugar beets; cashews; sour cherries; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; sweet corn; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weed); eggplants; figs; horseradish; hazelnuts; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; winter squash; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts.
Foreign Supplier Verification Programs
This rule, which can be read in full by clicking here, requires food importers to verify that foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that meets U.S. safety standards and that they are achieving the same level of food safety as domestic farms and food facilities, the FDA said.
Accredited Third-Party Certification
This rule, which can be read in full by clicking here, establishes a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies (auditors) to conduct food safety audits and to certify that foreign food facilities and food produced by such facilities meet applicable FDA food safety requirements, the agency said.
Jim Gorny, PMA’s Vice President of Food Safety and Technology, applauded the announcement of these new rules, but acknowledged that there are still concerns regarding the specific implementation details.
“The publication of these FSMA rules is not an endpoint but rather a beginning, which now requires understanding, planning, implementation, and verification by businesses,” said Gorny in a PMA press release. “To that end, we’re pleased to learn FDA will also soon be issuing important companion guidance documents for these final rules that will provide more detailed information about coverage and compliance requirements.”
PMA announced in its press release that industry members will have an opportunity to ask the FDA questions about the rules and implementation requirements via two free webinars, hosted by PMA and United Fresh Produce Association, in partnership with regional produce associations. Registration is now available. Click the links below for more information.
- Produce Rule: Friday, Dec. 11 at 1:30 pm EST/10:30 am PST
- FVSP and Third-Party Accreditation Rules: Monday, Dec. 14 at 12:00 pm EST/9:00 am PST
For more updates on these new rules, stick to AndNowUKnow.