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Arkansas Farm and Produce Safety

Keeping up with regulations to ensure your farm is using best practices can be daunting. Extension can provide fundamental, science-based, on-farm food safety knowledge to fresh fruit and vegetable farmers, packers, regulatory personnel and others interested in the safety of fresh produce in Arkansas. Arkansas Produce Safety Icon

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What are the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety rule?

The FSMA is a federal act that requires producers and processors of fresh fruits and vegetables to implement certain controls to prevent contamination of our nation’s food system. The act gives power to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish regulations for the production of fresh fruits and vegetables, (The Produce Safety Rule) and regulations for processors (The Preventive Controls Rule).

September 2017 Updated Guidance Report 

Small Entity Compliance Guides (SECGs) are designed to help small businesses meet federal standards. The SECG provides information that can help small and very small businesses understand how the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule apply to them. Specifically, the SECG can help farmers determine whether they are eligible for a qualified exemption, which would modify the requirements they are subject to under the Produce Safety Rule. The SECG can also help them understand those modified requirements.

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Does the Produce Safety rule apply to me?

Beginning in January 2018 the Produce Safety Rule begins to go into effect. Are you required to be in compliance?

If you produce fruits and vegetables that are sold and then consumed raw (i.e lettuce, apples, etc), and you gross more than $25,000 per year the short answer is Yes. Rules for when producers must be in compliance with the new regulations, including participating in specialized training and when or if they may be audited vary based on the size of the operation. We recommend visiting the links to the right to learn more. Even producers who gross less than $25,000 (3 year average) should follow basic food safety rules as a part of good farm management practices.

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How are the Produce Safety rules and FSMA different from Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)?

The basic difference between these two systems is that FSMA is a federally mandated program growers will be required to comply with, whereas GAP is a market driven program that is not required by law. GAP certification is often a requirement for selling to markets like grocery stores or regional distributors. Both systems share many of the same principals, but they are not identical. Growers who have GAP certification are not automatically compliant with FSMA.

Experience with GAP certification however will likely help you to be well on your way to compliance with FSMA. One unique difference is that FSMA will require attendance at an FDA approved food safety training course.

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Where can I get training?

Do you need training to help make your farm compliant with the new FSMA food safety regulations? Right now the only FDA approved training program is conducted by the Produce Safety Alliance. Other trainings may be developed and approved in the future.

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is currently developing plans to hold Produce Safety Alliance approved trainings in the fall of 2017.

Contact your local county extension agent for more information.

 

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The Preventive Controls Rule

The Preventive Controls rule is the second half of the FSMA. It applies to processing facilities of fresh fruits and vegetables. Specific rules and regulations designed to prevent contamination of the nations food supply at the processor level are the goal of these new regulations. More information is available on the FDA website and at the links to the left as to who must comply with these rules and what the new regulations require.