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June 6, 2017

FDA Intends to Extend Compliance Dates for Ag Water Requirements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced earlier today its intention to extend the compliance dates for the agricultural water standards established by the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) produce safety rule. FSMA’s produce safety rule sets microbial quality standards for agricultural water, including irrigation water that comes into contact with produce.

After receiving feedback earlier this year from stakeholders that some of the requirements are too complex to understand and implement, the FDA has been exploring ways to simplify the agricultural water requirements. The FDA intends to use the extended time period to work with stakeholders as it considers the best approach to address their concerns while still protecting public health. The extended compliance dates will also give farms an opportunity to continue to review their practices, processes and procedures related to agricultural water and how it is used on their farms.

While the first compliance dates for the FSMA Produce Safety Rule occur in January 2018, compliance with water provisions is not required until 2020 and this extension restates FDA’s intention to reassess the FSMA Produce Safety Rule ag water provisions.

“There has been a lot of dialogue surrounding the existing water requirements, including how difficult it would be to implement the singular method for water analysis mandated in the rule. Many have also suggested that the criteria to report specifics such as the number, location, time of tests, among others, should be moved to guidance rather than a requirement,” said Hank Giclas, WG Senior Vice President of Science, Technology & Strategic Planning. “Given the high level of uncertainty in terms of the final provisions for water, it is clearly premature for the commercial marketplace to require suppliers to change their existing water monitoring programs to fit the current rule.”

For more information, contact Hank Giclas at (949) 885-2205.