- Beginning on January 26, 2018 fruit, vegetable and nut farms in California and
throughout the U.S. are required to follow specific food safety practices under
a new federal regulation known as the Produce Safety Rule.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been charged with oversight of this new rule and it is being implemented in California by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
- Food safety practices required on farms are similar to what is required of restaurants or to precautions you might take in your own kitchen. The practices are designed to ensure produce is properly handled by workers who are trained to use good hygiene, to make sure farm equipment is sanitary, to ensure that soils where produce is grown are safe, and that measures are in place to prevent contamination of produce by wildlife or nearby domesticated animals. Additionally, farmers are required to keep written records to document their farming practices.
- Many produce farms have been implementing these kinds of food safety practices on their farms for years.
- Routine on-farm inspections to verify farmers are following the Produce Safety Rule will be conducted through an inspection unit created by the California Department of Food and Agriculture called the Produce Safety Program.
- It's estimated that 20,000 farms in California are subject to the Produce Safety Rule. It is the goal of CDFA that requirements of this new food safety rule become ingrained in the culture of California produce farming so that our state continues to grow the safest produce possible.
- Over the next year, the role of the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Produce Safety Program will be to educate California produce farmers about the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.
- Beginning in 2019, CDFA's Produce Safety Program inspectors will conduct random, routine inspections of produce farms to ensure they are following the new law.
- Inspectors in California are credentialed by the FDA and have specialized education and training. The inspectors are part of a government agency charged with protecting the food supply. They provide independent, unbiased, consistent inspections of California produce farms.
- Most grocery stores and restaurants already require farmers to follow food safety practices on their farms. In addition, many organizations conduct research and provide food safety guidelines that produce farmers have been following for years.
- Requirements for produce safety on farms is now the law. Farmers found to be out of compliance with these new requirements may face economic, regulatory and legal consequences.