Routine inspections to verify compliance with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will begin this spring for large farms. The FDA, in collaboration with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, has been working to provide everyone involved in making these new standards a reality, including farmers, state and federal regulators, and cooperative extension agents, the training and information they need.
These produce inspections were delayed by the FDA in part to allow the agency and its state partners to provide additional opportunities for education and outreach. That effort has consisted of ongoing training, produce farm visits, and the release of the draft Produce Safety Rule Compliance and Implementation Guidance over the past year.
Supporting material from FDA to help farmers, the produce industry, and other stakeholders include the following:
- FDA Voices: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda Plaisier, MSW, and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas, MPH, explain what FDA has been doing to support stakeholders’ work to comply with this rule.
- Produce Inspections Web Page: This page links to the available resources, including a new inspection form that will be issued at the end of every farm inspection, whether or not any non-compliance issues were identified, to explain what is being examined and how any observation relates to the regulation.
- Draft Guidance for Industry: This provides a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule. There is also an At-a-Glance overview of key points in each of the nine chapters described below, as well as a glossary of key terms.
Commissioner Gottlieb has also reached out in a letter to state agricultural commissioners, secretaries, and directors to update them on progress made on issues of joint interest related to implementation of the Produce Safety Rule.