FSMA Requirements Must Be Addressed

FSMA Requirements Must Be Addressed

February 1, 2017

FSMA Requirements Must be Understood and Documented

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

When it comes to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), there are now some big changes for food processors, farmers and farm employees.

“One of the things we're seeing that has changed as of recently, mainly due to the Food Safety Modernization Act, is there are standardized curriculum requirements within what we call the food processor rule, or the preventive controls rule, but now that's going back to the farm in what's called the produce safety rule," said Jeremiah Szabo, vice president of operations for Safe Food Alliance, a division of DFA of California.

“These rules are actually regulations that have been published and finalized by the Food & Drug Administration, and there are federal regulations, of which the states are going to adopt and manage and regulate,” Szabo said.

“One of the things we've been doing, and what our organization has been preparing for, is really beefing up the number of trainers we have on staff, their qualifications, sending them to lead instructor courses as we did, actually, starting about a year ago,” he said.

“We were involved with becoming lead instructors, and we have lead instructors on staff, to offer the preventive controls qualified individual training for food processors, which is a mandatory requirement when it comes to education requirements for those individuals at every food processor site that will manage their food safety system,” Szabo said.

The training includes documentation, record-keeping and education of staff working at those facilities, as well as their supply chain management and sanitation practice management.

Szabo said that the two-and-a-half day training has been successful. “As of March of 2016, we've conducted about 20 of those food processor trainings in California and other states."

“They've been really successful,” he said. “I think the practicality that comes with those courses is really important for the industry to hone in and to learn about how regulators are going to be expecting food facilities to document their food safety plan, as well as implement their food safety plan in their facilities.

Szabo noted that as the Safe Food Alliance was rolling out the preventive controls for qualified individual training, there were FDA and state regulators present in the training to learn about the preventive controls along with the industry. “This was good because the industry could hear from both sides of the aisle,” Szabo said.

On the farm side of the FSMA rule, farms not exempted from that rule will require eight hours of standardized training. “It involves things that are mentioned in the regulations, such as employee qualifications and education when it comes to personal hygiene for those employees that are interacting with the harvest activities, as well as the produce itself,” Szabo said.

For farms, there are eight modules of training, including worker health and hygiene and soil amendments, as well as agricultural production and post-harvest water quality.

“We've also partnered with the California Farm Bureau and their Farm Employee Labor Services Association to offer the training to farm supervisors and farm managers, as well as anybody else on the farm who are managing farm food safety plans and training and education,” Szabo said.