Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began finalizing the new food safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). NYFC and our partners have been working on these rules for the past few years, and together or coalition provided FDA with a lot of feedback about how the rules could be effective without creating an unreasonable burden for farmers. You can check out some of our past work here. It is exciting to see this process finally come to a close. It is also a bit nerve-wracking since the rules will impact farms and food handlers for years to come.
The first rules were released last month and cover Preventative Controls for Human and Animal Food. These rules, in general, cover businesses that process food rather than farms that grow produce. However, NFYC has been watching these rules carefully because many of our members store, aggregate, and process foods, particularly at food hubs and other multi-farm distribution sites. The FDA has greatly improved the rule since their original proposal, and fewer farmers will be impacted.
The Preventative Controls rule requires facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for consumption in the U.S. to register with the FDA. Registered facilities then must create a written food safety plan, which includes a hazard analysis, preventative controls for those hazards, monitoring, and verification, among other components. Some facilities are exempt or face modified requirements, depending on their size and what type of activities they do. Our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have the full rundown here.
Facilities have at least a year to come into compliance with the final rule. By September 19, 2016, all facilities will need to come into compliance except “small businesses.” These “small businesses” employ fewer than 500 full-time equivalent employees and will have until September 18, 2017 to come into compliance.
Next up will be the announcement of the final Produce Rule, which is of primary interest to farmers. This rule sets requirements for on-farm food safety measures. It is set to be released at the end of this month.
Even though the FDA has set the content of the food safety rules, we will still be watching carefully as the implementation process unfolds. While farmers will need to meet the requirements of the rules, we want to ensure training and compliance is neither too costly nor too time-consuming. We will continue to monitor and report back as implementation unfolds.