April 11, 2018
Efforts are underway to educate California produce farmers about new food safety regulations which took effect nationwide in January as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. A new website has launched by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) that focuses on helping California farmers understand how to comply with the Produce Safety Rule.
The website introduces users to the Produce Safety Program, a new unit operating under CDFA’s Inspection Services Division. The Produce Safety Program is responsible for conducting on-farm inspections on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to verify compliance with the Produce Safety Rule among California fruit, vegetable and nut farmers.
It’s estimated some 20,000 California produce farms are covered under this new regulation. The job of bringing these farms into compliance with the Produce Safety Rule is a very large task and CDFA is committed to educating farmers before we begin regulating them.
The FDA has determined that on-farm inspections to verify compliance with the Produce Safety Rule will not begin until 2019. This gives CDFA time to begin getting the word out to farmers about how to comply with the new regulation. This new website is designed to do just that.
The website is structured in three areas — Educate, Implement and Regulate. This makes it easy for farmers to understand the various components of the new regulations. As an example, under the Educate section, farmers can easily learn how to comply with one of the initial requirements of the Produce Safety Rule which require every produce farm to have an employee who has been certified in a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training course. The website provides links to lists of available courses where farmers can register for one of these required courses on-line. The classes are conducted in both English and Spanish and CDFA has received funding from FDA, so the courses can be offered at reduced rates to California farmers.
Via the website, produce farms and industry members can join a mailing list to receive regular updates from the Produce Safety Program. The mailing list will be used to distribute a monthly blog with additional information on the many compliance issues that are part of the new regulations. The Produce Safety Program also has a Facebook page.
The Produce Safety Program plans to spend the coming year doing everything possible to inform and educate California produce farmers about the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule. We encourage produce farmers and associations to visit the website site and to share the link widely.
The vision of the Produce Safety Program is for 100 percent compliance with the Produce Safety Rule. Our hope is that required food safety practices will become ingrained in the culture of California produce farming so that our state continues to grow the safest produce possible.
Posted by Administrator in Announcements