Industry Serious About Produce Safety Rule

CDFA Announces New Produce Safety Program

By Scott Horsfall, CEO of Leafy Green Marketing Agreement

Reprinted from the LGMA Website

CDFA announced recently the creation of a new unit within its Inspection Services Division which will be responsible for educating California produce farmers about new Produce Safety Rule regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act and for conducting routine on-farm inspections of California produce farms to verify they are in compliance.

Scott Horsfall

According to a CDFA press release, this new unit, called the Produce Safety Program, will spend 2018 educating California’s produce industry about the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule. On-farm inspections will not take place until 2019. At that time, the Produce Safety Program will begin conducting inspections of California produce farms on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Produce Safety Program inspectors are employees of CDFA, but are credentialed by the FDA and thus have special training and education. The CDFA is working collaboratively with FDA to implement Produce Safety Rule regulations, as are State Departments of Agriculture throughout the country.

The new requirements of the Produce Safety Rule became mandatory throughout the nation on January 26th for farms designated as “large” which means they have $500,000 or more in annual sales. Most farms who grow leafy greens under the LGMA would be characterized as large under this definition. Smaller farms will be phased in over the next few years. In total, it’s estimated there are some 20,000 fruit, vegetable and nut farms in California that will fall under the Produce Safety Rule.

CDFA emphasizes it will be a big job and has stated it will need to work closely with the California produce industry to achieve its goal of 100% compliance with the Produce Safety Rule on California Farms.

The LGMA has been working closely with both the U.S. FDA and CDFA to ensure our food safety program works in conjunction with efforts to enforce the Produce Safety Rule.

Last August, the LGMA Board approved revised metrics so that our required food safety practices are in full compliance with the Produce Safety Rule. We have since received confirmation from FDA that these revised metrics do indeed align with the requirements of the new regulations. In many cases, the LGMA metrics continue to go beyond what is required by FDA. Working from the revised metrics, CDFA will begin using an updated audit checklist that is Produce Safety Rule-compliant checklist for all LGMA government audits beginning April 1.

Because of these actions, CDFA has informed us that California farms who grow leafy greens for certified LGMA members will be considered compliant with the Produce Safety Rule.

More details will be coming as we get closer to April 1, when the LGMA’s new compliance year begins. In the meantime, we want LGMA members to know that FDA will be able to validate compliance with the Produce Safety Rule on farms who grow your leafy greens without the need for additional and duplicative inspections when Produce Safety Program begins inspecting farms in 2019. CDFA has recognized the efforts of the LGMA to establish a culture of food safety on the farm and they acknowledge that mandatory government audits are already taking place on California leafy greens farms who operate under the LGMA.

As a reminder, under the LGMA program, every handler-member continues to be audited by the government an average of five times over the course of the year—with one unannounced audit—and every farmer is audited at least once per year.

This recognition by government agencies at FDA and CDFA is welcome news to the LGMA, our members and produce buyers. The LGMA is pleased to see the addition of this new unit at CDFA to provide government inspections throughout California’s produce industry. And we look forward to additional oversight provided by the Produce Safety Program to further validate that leafy greens are being farmed safely.

Produce Rule is Now Mandatory

Produce Rule Now In Effect

By Sonia Salas, Western Growers, Director of Science and Technology

It’s official: Since January 26, domestic and international produce farms designated as “large” (those with annual sales greater than $500,000) are expected to comply with most provisions of the Produce Safety Rule, a federal law created under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Smaller farms will be phased in over the next few years.

The Produce Safety Rule is mandatory throughout the United States and applies to both domestic and imported produce. Any produce farm found to be out of compliance may be subject to regulatory action. The State Departments of Agriculture play a key role in education, outreach and enforcement activities.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently announced that it will be launching a new Produce Safety Program, which will operate as part of its Inspection Services Division. This program has been created specifically to conduct on-farm inspections on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will be used to verify compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.

Additionally, the program will distribute educational information designed to assist California produce farms in understanding the requirements and how to comply with the rule. More information about CDFA activities can be found in their Produce Safety Rule Fact Sheet. The Colorado and Arizona Departments of Agriculture are likewise taking the lead to enforce this rule and educate growers in their respective states.

The focus in 2018 is on education and on-farm readiness. While on-farm inspections are not likely until 2019, Western Growers encourages members to meet compliance deadlines and has developed resources to help members get ready, including an implementation guide and self-audit checklist, available on our FSMA Portal.

Below is a list of Western Growers’ resources and upcoming training to help growers with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule:

FSMA Portal: Click here to access the portal.

Produce Safety Rule Resources Portal (a full Implementation Guide with audit checklist will be available for download tomorrow): Click here to access the portal.

Webinar on February 26: Are you FSMA Compliant?: Click here to register.

Industry Workshops: Click here to view dates and register.

FSMA Deadlines and Details

Aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Explained

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

 

As many 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) provisions near their deadline for the first step in compliance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an extension for many aspects of the new rules to allow growers and processors more time to clarify certain provisions to ensure compliance. Jon Kimble, food safety services manager with Sacramento-based DFA of California, a non-profit trade association formerly called the Dried Fruit Association, weighed in on several FSMA provisions and compliance.

Jon Kimble, food safety services manager with DFA of California, FSMA
Jon Kimble, food safety services manager with DFA of California

“The Preventive Controls Rule is the biggie that came out. This rule is largely based on the existing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) structure that the food industry is familiar with, but with some slight modifications and specifics that are unique to the regulation,” noted Kimble. HACCP is an international standard that defines requirements for effective food safety control from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in the production processes that could cause the finished product to be unsafe.

The Preventive Controls Rules for Human and Animal Food was enacted September 18, for large operations. Small and mid-sized companies will have until September 2017 and very small companies have until September 2018.

 

The Produce Safety Rule, another critical part of the Food Safety Act that was published last November, provides farm standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption.

The Produce Safety Rule will come into effect for large farming operations within the next month.

 

Other portions of the act include the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals and Accredited Third-Party Certificationwhich relate to imported food products. “There are some regulations that you have to comply with whether you are a food processor or a broker importing food,” Kimble explained.

Finalized earlier this year, the Sanitary Transportation Rule pertains to service scenarios where foods are exposed and not packaged. This rule covers food transported in bulk; vehicle cleanliness, design and maintenance, temperature control; prevention of the contamination of ready-to-eat food (from touching raw food, non-food items in the same load or previous load, and cross-contact with food allergen); training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices; documentation of the training; and maintenance and retention of records.

The Sanitary Transportation Rule has a compliance deadline of April 2017 for large companies.

 

FSMA also includes the Intentional Adulteration Rule, which “relates to what we would traditionally call food defense or security measures to prevent intentional contamination of the food supply,” Kimble said.


Founded in 1908, DFA is one of the oldest food safety companies in the U.S. that provides commodity inspection services and support to packers, processors and exporters in the dried fruit, tree nut, and kindred product industry through commodity inspection, the Red Seal Program, and the Export Trading Company (ETC)

Safe Food Alliance, a new division of DFA of California serves as a resource to the food industry for any and all food safety practices. Services include food safety training and consulting, laboratory testing and analysis, and third party certification audits conducted by Safe Food Certifications, LLC.