Wednesday, August 31, 2011 by Lee Mannering
Last week I read a blog post from FDA’s Sharon Natanblut (who was part of the FDA team PMA leaders met with during our June meetings in Washington, DC) in which she highlighted the work the agency is doing to meet with small farmers to better understand their concerns about produce safety, the produce safety rule and the Food Safety Modernization Act, and more.
She noted that “while FDA and its colleagues at USDA bring to the table scientific and public health expertise, we all know that farms are very much the real world of soil, air and water open to the elements 24/7 and worked by humans and animals. Farmers can inform us from their experience and practices… Successful produce safety is possible if farmers and food safety officials work together, listening to each other and learning from each other.”
With regard to small businesses and the FSMA, FDA recently updated its website with a timeline of when small businesses can expect to see guidance documents and related materials. These include:
- Facilities Registration: FDA will issue “plain language” guidance on registration procedures for small entities within six months of issuing the registration rule.
- Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls: FDA will issue “plain language” guidance for small entities within six months of issuing hazard analysis/preventive control rule. The hazard analysis/preventive control rule will take effect for small businesses six months after its effective date and for very small businesses 18 months after effective date.
- Produce Safety: FDA will issue “plain language” guidance for small businesses within six months of issuing produce safety rule. The produce safety rule will take effect for small businesses one year after its effective date and for very small businesses two years after its effective date.
- Tracking and Tracing: FDA will issue “plain language” guidance for small businesses within six months of issuing rule on tracking and tracing food and recordkeeping. The rule on recordkeeping will take effect for small businesses one year after effective date and for very small businesses two years after effective date.
- Training and Education: FDA will enter into agreement with USDA to establish competitive grant program within the National Institute for Food and Agriculture to provide food safety training, education, extension, outreach, and technical assistance to farmers, small food processors and small fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.
On that last bullet point regarding training, PMA offers small grower training to our members. This program addresses the components of a food safety program, how to develop a food safety program, how to conduct a risk assessment, and tracebacks and product recalls. If you work with small growers and would like to have PMA’s food safety team speak to them, please contact Cyndi Clifton here at the office.
In addition, the Produce Safety Alliance (through Cornell University) has established working committees to identify challenges in the areas of understanding and implementing GAPs on farms. If you’d like to get involved in this effort, visit the Alliance website or contact Gretchen Wall at Cornell.