After an intense three-year legislative process formulating the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) begun in Congress in 2009, followed by an unusual two full rounds of public comment correcting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) controversial proposed rules, the final Preventative Controls Rule regulating food facilities was issued in late-September, 2015.
At this writing, still to come in mid-November is the final FSMA Produce Rule regulating on-farm food safety. Among the hundreds of pages, the most contentious issues to pay attention to will be the agricultural water quality standards and testing frequencies; the interval between manure and compost application and harvest; extent of record-keeping requirements and reinstatement of farmers’ qualified exemption. There’ll also be a finalized implementation schedule. Depending on how farm and processing operations are classified scale-wise, compliance deadlines will be phased in over the next 5 years. On a parallel track is the development of provisions for requisite food safety training for farmers.