The purpose of the Food and Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is to shift food safety regulations from a system that focuses on responding to contaminations to one that focuses on preventing them. The PSR is the first mandatory federal standard for the production of fruits and vegetables in the United States.
While some growers may be exempt or not covered by the PSR, all growers should be prepared to implement food safety practices. Produce safety affects every fruit and vegetable grower, regardless of size or location.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is participating in a cooperative agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration to advance efforts of food safety on Tennessee farms. A partnership between TDA and Tennessee growers is a key step toward enhancing food safety on our farms.
Does the Produce Safety Rule apply to you?
To be eligible for a qualified exemption, the farm must meet two requirements:
- The farm must have food sales averaging less than $500,000 per year during the previous three years; and
- The farm’s sales to qualified end-users must exceed sales to all others combined during the previous three years.
A qualified end-user is either (a) the consumer of the food or (b) a restaurant or retail food establishment that is located in the same state or the same Indian reservation as the farm or not more than 275 miles away.
When will compliance be required? When will the first inspection happen?
- The first compliance date is January 26, 2018 for the larger farms fully covered by the rule. Inspections of these farms could start summer/fall of 2018.
- The compliance date for medium sized farms is January 26, 2019
- The compliance date for small farms is January 26, 2020
How will growers and packers know what to expect during an inspection?
- The new rule puts a greater emphasis on documentation (written planning and recordkeeping). These records will be reviewed during an inspection.
- TDA and UT-K Extension are entities that can provide outreach, education and assistance. The Produce Safety Alliance can provide information, training and documentation that will be helpful in successfully implementing the rule.
- TDA is looking to provide “On-Farm Readiness Reviews” for interested growers and packers. The farm operations would be looked at as if it was being inspected, but no regulatory action will be taken. It is an opportunity for the farmer to ask questions and the inspector to provide explanations of that they are looking at and why. TDA is looking to provide this type of service in early 2019.
Who will enforce the rule?
- Currently this is a federal regulation that could/ will be carried out by FDA inspectors.
- TDA is looking at and seeking input from stakeholders on being the enforcing agency for Tennessee Farms.
Final Produce Safety Rule
*Funding for this statement, publication, press release, etc. was made possible, in part, by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. The views expressed in written materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does any mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organization imply endorsement by the United States Government.*