Regulations aim to improve food safety
Once they are finally approved, the Produce Safety Rules will establish science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce on farms. The regulations focus on identified routes of microbial contamination of produce, including:
• Agricultural Water—all agricultural water must be safe and of adequate sanitary quality
• Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin—what a fancy way to describe manure and what you are supposed to do with it to keep it “safe”.
• Health and Hygiene—that’s right everyone, including workers down on the farm need to properly wash their hands, use the porta potty, wash their hands and practice adequate personal cleanliness.
• Domesticated and Wild Animals—When animals, domesticated or wild, poop in the field it contaminates the crops. There must be a system in place to monitor such activity and manage it.
• Equipment, tools and buildings—set standards for certain equipment and tools, buildings and sanitation practices used for produce operations on farms.
• Training—required training for farm personnel who handle the produce or food-contact surfaces and for supervisors.
• Recordkeeping—certain records must be maintained that document certain standards are being met. “If it wasn’t documented it didn’t happen” is just as important on the farm as it is in the foodservice kitchen.
• Risk Assessment—the FDA will issue a separate document providing a qualitative assessment of risk that provides a scientific evaluation of the potential adverse health effects resulting from human exposure to hazards in produce.
Will the FSMA improve produce food safety? Yes, eventually. The FDA estimates this proposed rule will prevent 1.75 million foodborne illnesses with an associated benefit of $1.04 billion annually. However, for now and forever if you are in the foodservice business you must remain vigilant as your customers’ greatest advocate.
Find an excellent description of the FSMA rules online.
Steven Sklare, REHS, CP-FS, LEHP, is a sales executive for food safety services at SGS Consumer Testing Services. He’s been working in the food industry for over 20 years performing supply chain risk management, food safety audits and training, food safety management plan design and pest control services. He can be reached at email@example.com or at LinkedIn.