Guest Column | November 14, 2017

FSMA's Produce Safety Rule: Dissecting Recent Announcements

FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule: Dissecting Recent Announcements

By Jennifer McEntire, Ph.D., United Fresh Produce Association

A recent Food Online article provided tips for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule, but some provisions in the rule are clearer than others. Over the past several months, the FDA has announced various reconsiderations related to the rule that can be difficult to interpret. Here are a few highlights:

Compliance And Enforcement Dates

  • What’s changed? It’s important to note that the compliance dates for the Produce Safety Rule have not changed. This means larger farms (>$500K annual sales) will still need to comply beginning January 26, 2018. However, the FDA announced that regulatory inspections won’t begin until the spring of 2019.
     
  • Why the change? The Produce Safety Rule represents the first federal, prevention-based regulation of farms. The FDA doesn’t have many staff members familiar with farms and the agency is working with state departments of agriculture. The FDA will be leveraging most states to inspect farms and many states are still in the process of training their inspectors. The FDA has not yet issued the types of guidance documents that would help industry and regulators understand and interpret the rule. For these reasons, inspections won’t begin until the spring 2019. Of course, if there is an issue, the FDA (or states) can, and will, take regulatory action.