Food Safety is the Law!

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama on 1/4/2011. Compliance dates for the law vary depending on operational size.  For many operations in our area, earning more than $500,000 per year, compliance is law as of 1/26/18.

But things have changed since Obama signed the law in 2011.  As such, the FDA just released new income numbers adjusting for inflation. Companies earning on average $539,982 during the years of 2015 through 2017 must comply with FSMA this year. For very small farms earning less than $26,999, they are exempt from the rule.

“The rule” of FSMA can refer to a number of different “rules”.  There are 8 different rules in FSMA regulation breaking down laws as they apply to different sectors of the industry.  The rule I’m referring to is Produce Safety.  The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) basically applies to all products consumable raw. There’s also rules for transportation, foreign supplier verification, and preventative controls, to name a few.

So, what kind of things does FSMA entail?  A lot!  Growers who followed the California and/or Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements metrics were set up for compliance long before FSMA was law.  California and Arizona LGMA were created as a self-regulated industry response to the 2006 spinach outbreak.  In fact, areas of FSMA were modeled after the LGMA metrics.

In a short summary, LGMA and FSMA require a comprehensive food safety program.  The program must include mandatory training, water testing, assessments, annual evaluations of the food safety program, and many other things.  Farms must also address animal intrusion, sanitary facilities, Good Agricultural Practices, visitors, food defense and security, and much, much more.  Although food safety is the law, it’s important to remember that farming is risky business.  There’s a lot of factors that play in the game, and we can only manage those risks to a certain extent.

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