Food Safety Modernization Act
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA, often pronounced "fizz-ma") was signed into law on January 4, 2011. FSMA authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a preventative approach to food safety.
There are seven rules included within FSMA. The Produce Safety Rule is one of these Rules and was finalized in 2015. The Produce Safety Rule sets food safety standards for farms in an effort to minimize the risks of microbiological contamination that may occur during the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh produce. The key elements to the Produce Safety Rule and additional resources are listed below. For more information, attend one of the PSA Grower Training courses.
Employee qualifications and training
Farm workers who handle produce and/or food contact surfaces must have certain training, including the importance of health and hygiene.
Worker health and hygiene
Workers can carry, introduce and spread contamination to fresh produce so it's critical to have training in place for employees and visitors. Farms must also implement worker practices such as washing hands after using the restroom and notifying their supervisor when they are ill.
Biological soil amendments
Appropriate use of raw manure and compost minimizes the risk of contamination.
Domesticated and wild animals.
Produce growing areas must be visually monitored for signs of animal intrusion and workers must not harvest produce that is likely contaminated (e.g. don't harvest melons with bird poop on them). Farms are not required to exclude animals from their fields or destroy animal habitat.
Equipment, tools and buildings
The Produce Safety Rule establishes standards related to the use and sanitation of equipment, tools and buildings to prevent contaminating produce.
Certain records are required by the Produce Safety Rule. In general, records should be accurate, legible, and indelible; dated and signed by the person who performed the activity; and should be created at the time of the activity. Records should be keep for at least two years.
Sprouts have specific requirements because of their susceptibility to contamination. Contact the Sprout Safety Alliance if you are a sprout grower.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP)
FSMA does not take the place of USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) & Good Handling Practices (GHPs), although farms utilizing these programs will be in a great position to comply with the Produce Safety Rule. It is expected that the FDA and USDA will continue to work together to release guidance. For more information about coverage and exemptions, review the following links:
More Links & Resources
Content and information on this web page were supported in part by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the FDA.