About

The California Produce Safety Program is a unit operating under the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Inspection Services Division. It exists to help bring California produce farms into compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Produce Safety Rule.

In 2019, CDFA’s Produce Safety Program will begin conducting on-farm inspections to verify compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.

The Produce Safety Program will spend 2018 working to make sure California produce farmers understand the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.

Our Core Value = Educate Then Regulate

The California Produce Safety Program’s role is to educate California produce farmers on how to comply with the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule and then regulate farms to ensure they are in compliance with this new law.

Our Vision = Safe Produce Through 100% Compliance with the Law

It is our goal for Produce Safety Rule requirements to become ingrained in the culture of California produce farming so that our state continues to grow the safest produce possible.

Why is the produce safety rule important to California produce farmers?

The Produce Safety Rule is now law for all produce farms in the U.S. and farmers are obligated to follow the law.

Produce farmers put food safety first. Following required food safety practices on your farm is the right thing to do.

Farmers found to be out of compliance with these new regulations may face economic, regulatory and legal consequences.

Who is responsible for implementing the produce safety rule?

Federal and state government agencies are working together to implement this new regulation throughout the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in collaboration with State Departments of Agriculture, provides oversight and verifies compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is responsible for hiring and training produce safety inspectors and other Produce Safety Program staff to carry out Produce Safety Rule education and on-farm inspections.

The California Department of Public Health continues to serve in its role to ensure the safety of California’s food supply. If a CDFA Produce Safety Program inspector believes there is a significant and imminent threat to public health on a produce farm, they will inform CDPH of the situation for evaluation and potential regulatory action.

Who must follow the produce safety rule?

California fruit, vegetable and nut farms are subject to regulations under the Produce Safety Rule.

Beginning January 26, 2018, produce farms designated as “large” (those with annual sales greater than $500,000) are expected to comply with the Produce Safety Rule. Smaller farms will be phased in over the next few years.

Multiple rules exist within the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. The exact rule your farm falls under will vary depending the type of business you operate. To determine if your operation falls under the Produce Safety Rule, please see this flow chart .

Exceptions:

A list of exemptions from the Produce Safety Rule can be found here

Exemptions generally include the following:

  • 30 commodities have been identified by the FDA as exempt from the Produce Safety Rule because they are rarely consumed raw. Farms exclusively producing these commodities are not covered by the Produce Safety Rule. Examples of exempt commodities include: dried kidney beans, potatoes and pumpkins.
  • Farms that grow produce only for personal consumption or very limited distribution may also be exempt from the Produce Safety Rule.
  • Some farms may qualify for an exemption from the Produce Safety Rule if their sales are below certain levels or if they grow produce that is processed in a way that would kill pathogens. Farmers falling in these categories will be required to verify their exemption status.