Last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the updated draft guidance for industry with respect to “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” The purpose of this guidance is to help produce farms understand what they must do to comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
This is a signal that government is getting closer to requiring full compliance with this Rule and that corresponding inspections through the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Produce Safety Program are getting closer to reality.
The guidance is still in draft form and the public may weigh in with comments. You are encouraged to submit comments to FDA for consideration no later than April 22, 2019. Information on how to submit comments can be found here.
The draft guidance provides a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule. It is highly recommended that you review the draft guidance itself for complete information. But, in addition to the draft guidance, there is an At-a-Glance overview of key points in each of the nine chapters which are as follows:
Chapter 2: Personnel Qualifications and Training
Chapter 4: Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin and Human Waste
Chapter 5: Domesticated and Wild Animals
Chapter 6: Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding Activities
Chapter 7: Equipment, Tools, Buildings and Sanitation
A series of public hearings is also being held around the country in the coming months. Included is one in California. That meeting is scheduled for November 29, 2018 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton in the Anaheim Resort Convention Center located at 2085 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802. You may find more information about the meeting and can register online here. An option to participate via webcast is also available.
In the coming months, the Produce Safety Program plans to post much more information about the draft guidance to assist California produce farms in understanding what is expected of them. The law is in effect now and official inspections will begin in 2019. In the meantime, we encourage you to sign up to receive regular updates on implementation of the Produce Safety Rule in California here. This is the best way for California produce farms to stay abreast of additional developments and resources about the Produce Safety Rule.