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First step is questionnaires arriving this week in farmers’ mailboxes
SACRAMENTO, February 21, 2019 - Beginning this week, thousands of California produce farmers will receive a letter from CDFA containing important information about on-farm food safety inspections that will begin this spring for a number of fruit, nut and vegetable farms in the state. A questionnaire seeking background information about farms is included in the mailing and will be utilized to help coordinate inspections.
The inspections are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA. Since the law was passed, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working with states across the U.S. to assist them in performing on-farm inspections. These inspections are set to begin at some produce farms in California.
In April, CDFA’s newly-established Produce Safety Program is scheduled to begin inspections on behalf of the FDA as a means of verifying that produce farms in California are following food safety regulations for produce under FSMA.
“The Produce Safety Program’s core value is to educate, then regulate,” said Natalie Krout-Greenberg, director of CDFA’s Inspection Services Division, which is overseeing the program. “Our role is to ensure California produce farmers know how to comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, and then to regulate farms to ensure they are compliant.”
Of the produce farms identified in California, only large farms will be subject to inspections at first. Under the Produce Safety Rule, farms with $500,000 or more in average annual sales have been required to be compliant with the Produce Safety Rule since January 2018 and inspections to verify their compliance will begin this spring.
Small farms—those with annual sales of between $250,000 and $500,000—were required to be compliant beginning in January of this year but won’t be inspected until next year. Very small farms with sales between $25,000 and $250,000 are not required to comply until January of 2020.
Farmers are encouraged to visit the Produce Safety Program’s website for information and assistance to better understand the program requirements.