California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Produce Safety Program (PSP) Supervisor Shelley Phillips was recently interviewed by “Farmer Fred” Hoffman on KSTE radio’s “Farm Hour” program to discuss the impact of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) on California farmers.
CDFA created the PSP to “Educate then Regulate” California farmers about the PSR under the authority of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), in partnership with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). FSMA was passed in 2011 to help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. PSR implementation and enforcement is occurring in stages between 2019 and 2021.
“It’s a way for the FDA to be proactive about food safety rather than being reactive when we have outbreaks or other issues surrounding food safety,” Phillips says about the PSR during the interview.
Items Phillips discusses during the 10-minute interview include:
- Which farms are required to verify PSR compliance and which farms are PSR exempt
- What proactive measures farmers are required to follow under the PSR
- The current stage of PSR implementation and inspections
- How “small” farmers (average annual sales of $250,000–$500,000 during the previous three-year period) should fill out and submit a recent questionnaire that the CDFA mailed, in order to be prepared for the next stage of PSR inspections
- What farmers should expect during all stages of a PSP inspection, from initial contact to a follow-up inspection report
- The educational resources available on www.cdfa.ca.gov/producesafety to help farmers understand and prepare for PSR compliance, including scheduling an On-Farm Readiness Review
“The inspector is there to assist the farmer, so any questions that the farmer may have is fair game,” Phillips says at the interview’s conclusion.