FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules For Produce

Shoppers in the produce section

FDA has proposed two new food safety rules that will help prevent foodborne illness. The proposed rules implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and are available for public comment for the next 120 days. (See page two for comments on the proposed rules from the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh.)

The rules follow outreach by FDA to the produce industry, the consumer community, other government agencies, and the international community. Since January 2011, FDA staff have toured farms and facilities nationwide and participated in hundreds of meetings and presentations with global regulatory partners, industry stakeholders, consumer groups, farmers, state and local officials, and the research community.

These two FSMA rules are part of an integrated reform effort that focuses on prevention and addresses the safety of foods produced domestically and imported, with additional rules to be published shortly.

The first rule proposed today would require makers of food to be sold in the U.S, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise. The FDA seeks public comment on this proposal. FDA is proposing that many food manufacturers be in compliance with the new preventive controls rules one year after the final rules are published in the Federal Register but small and very small businesses would be given additional time.

FDA also seeks public comment on the second proposed rule released today, which proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.

FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small and very small farms would have additional time to comply, and all farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.

“The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments, and our international trading partners,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Our proposed rules reflect the input we have received from these stakeholders and we look forward to working with the public as they review the proposed rules.”

Before issuing the two rules, the FDA conducted extensive outreach that included five federal public meetings and regional, state, and local meetings in 14 states across the country as well as making hundreds of presentations to ensure that the rules would be flexible enough to cover the diverse industries to be affected. The FDA also visited farms and facilities of varying sizes.

“We know one-size-fits-all rules won’t work,” said Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “We’ve worked to develop proposed regulations that can be both effective and practical across today’s diverse food system.”

Additional rules to follow soon include new responsibilities for importers to verify that food products grown or processed overseas are as safe as domestically produced food and accreditation standards to strengthen the quality of third-party food safety audits overseas. Improving oversight of imported food is an important goal of FSMA. Approximately 15% of the food consumed in the U.S. is imported, with much higher proportions in certain higher risk categories, such as produce.

FDA plans to coordinate the comment periods on the major FSMA proposals as fully as possible to better enable public comment on how the rules can best work together to create an integrated, effective and efficient food safety system.

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4 comments on “FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules For Produce

  1. Matt

    I am not sure what the feds are thinking with this bill. Did ANYONE read the estimated costs with this thing for SMALL and VERY SMALL producers? Small producers are expected to see an ANNUAL cost of $12,972 and VERY SMALL producers (those who sell less than $25,000) $4697. How would any small farm stay in business with these kinds of additional taxes? Keep in mind that this is NOT profit, it is the value of the food you sell. If you sell produce VALUED at $25,000 of less for very small and $250,000 (forget $500,000 no one will qualify) for small farms. Most small farms struggle to afford things like additional equipment, employees, etc. With Obamacare, any small farm with a few more than 50 employees will be screwed. These rules seem like they were written to put all small farms out of business and leave only the large multi-nationals. I guess food safety was not the feds concern, protecting the profits of large multi-nationals is the name of the game. You will QUICKLY notice the LACK of regulations on food IMPORTED into this country. This whole food safety thing is SHAM. I am so sick of the feds trying to destroy family farms.

  2. Matt

    One more thing, notice how all of the reporting slants contamination to the producers of food and NOT the processors, distributors, retailers or consumers? I will be my farm that more than 80% of food born illness EACH year is caused by the end user not properly cooking, storing, preparing or serving the food. Just go to subway sometime and watch the employees put on plastic gloves and then shove food waste from the prep line or the floor in the garbage and then directly, without washing or changing gloves, go right back to preparing food. Go to ANY grocery store and I will guarantee you I can find rotten food for sale, mold under the drip pans in produce, etc. I worked in the grocery retail space for 14 years before growing produce. I can guarantee you I have seen HUNDREDS of food safety issues over the years from ONE store. I have personally seen frozen food completely thawed, refrozen and put out for sale. I have seen black mold cleaned from produce drip pans. Deli and meat cases that routinely run at 50F or higher temp due to malfunctioning compressors that the store won't spend the money to repair. I have seen produce such as lettuce, broccoli, carrots, etc. arrive on unrefridgerated trucks at room temp put in the cooler and then later put out for sale. I have seen melons frozen and then put on the sales floor for sale. The list goes ON and ON. It made me sick at times. Yet all these articles want us to think that the PRODUCERS are the problem. Excuse ME! The large multi-nationals are the problem. The people who have no personal interest nor pride in their farm and only care about the profit. These rules WILL end many small family farms. They are draconian, overly financially burdensome and do NOT help make farms safer. For proof they do not work, just look at how the FDA looks the other way when there are dead chickens in processing plants, diseased steers coming from CAFO. NOTHING is done about these problems, yet MOST of the sickness comes from these operations. My comment on these rules will be that all producers who do NOT ship across state lines and sell directly to the end consumer, institution or retailer should be exempt. The feds have no business regulating intra-state commerce.

  3. Dave

    Matt, Where did you find the article that gave you the cost estimates that you quoted? I agree that the family farm is under attack! They have us at a great disadvantage. If we fight this ridiculous proposal then it appears that we are not in favor of safe food. I really would like to be armed with the facts and what it means to the small growers before I try to voice my opinion. Dave

  4. Richard

    I'm have a very small farm with 16 acres of fruit. I've spent the last 20 years replanting this place so i could look forward to something supplementing my retirement. Why are the not cracking down on wal mart, fred meyer, costco etc with all the birds in the store crapping on produce? I'm 61 and it will not be cost effective for my wife and i do go this route.