The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just released a new guide that should help small farmersunderstand regulations and exemptions surrounding the Food Safety Modernization Act’s produce safety rule.
The guide, which you can access (PDF) right on the FDA’s website, includes 35 pages on the rule, including which farms it applies to, exemptions that are available and important dates farmers should know. The rule has several different components. But all of them are aimed at improving food safety practices in farms of all sizes.
Overview of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule
The rule includes requirements for:
- Personnel qualifications and training
- Health and hygiene
- Agricultural water
- Biological soil amendments
- Domesticated and wild animals
- Equipment, tools and building
And all farms or farm mixed-type facilities selling more than $25,000 worth of produce a year for at least three years are subject to these requirements. But there are also some qualified exemptions. For instance, businesses that have sold less than $500,000 in total food value over the previous three years may be eligible for an exemption.
Additionally, there are different dates that businesses must start complying with each rule. For example, the date when covered activities involving sprouts must comply with the rule is January 26, 2018 for small businesses, and January 28, 2019 for very small businesses. The guide also includes explanations for what businesses fall into what size categories.
The guide includes a much more detailed explanation of the rule, the exemptions and everything else that small farms should know about complying with the produce safety rule. So while regulations like this one can sometimes be confusing and burdensome for small businesses, this guide gives you a valuable resource to help you understand all of what is required of your business and the different options you might have for ensuring compliance.