The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has re-evaluated some key provisions of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule’s ag water requirements in an effort to make implementation of the requirements easier and less costly for produce growers.
In a “constituent update” released this morning, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., outlined a number of immediate next steps in a comprehensive approach to ensuring successful implementation of the Produce Safety Rule. This includes expanding the list of validated methods, which was directly recommended by industry supporters, including Western Growers, the Center for Produce Safety and the UC Postharvest Technology Center.
The key steps are outlined as follows:
Ag Water Compliance Dates: The FDA issued a proposed rule to extend the compliance dates for water by two to four years. For the largest farms the new deadline will be 2022. For small farms the new deadline is 2023 and for very small farms the new deadline is 2024.
Stakeholder Engagement on Ag Water Standards: FDA plans to actively engage with all stakeholders to ensure the standards will be as practical and effective as possible for all farming operations. This will include a summit on ag water early next year.
Water Testing Methods: FDA listed eight additional testing methods that it has determined are equivalent to the method incorporated by reference (Method 1603) in the Produce Rule. The agency will add other methods as they are identified.
Produce Farm Inspections: While large farms are still expected to meet all requirements set forth in the rule except those related to ag water by January 26, 2018 – inspections to assess compliance will not begin until 2019.
Training Opportunities for Producers and Regulators: FDA is committed to ensuring produce farmers and state regulators have the training necessary to implement the Produce Safety Rule. Training of state regulators is a top priority for FDA. (NOTE: Training for growers and handlers remains the top priority for Western Growers.)
For questions, contact Hank Giclas at (949) 885-2205.
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