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.
What is the Produce Safety Rule (PSR)? What does it involve?
- It is the US food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rule for formally entitled “Standards for the Growing, harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption”.
- Produce covered includes fruits, vegetables , nuts and mushrooms typically consumed raw.
- Activities that we typically associate with a produce grower or packer are likely to be subject to the Produce Safety Rule.
- The rule includes requirements for training, agricultural water and its testing, use of manures as fertilizer, preventing crop contamination by domesticated and wild animals; and construction, maintenance, and cleaning of equipment, tools , and buildings.
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.