Countdown to FSMA Implementation - Part 2

Posted by Accu-Tab News Team
Oct 29, 2014 4:53:40 PM
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Signed into law over three years ago, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is finally being, well, finalized. Although compliance inspections likely won’t begin until 2016, farmers should be prepared for the law’s new standards, which place increased scrutiny on produce safety and agricultural water. The public comment period for this rule has closed, so growers should keep an eye on the FDA’s website for potential amendments to and publication of FSMA rules. 

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Specifically, the FSMA includes several proposed rules that cover different aspects of agricultural operations. One of them focuses on produce safety, which covers new requirements for testing and treating agricultural water.

 “Safe and Sanitary”

The guiding principle behind the FDA’s approach to agricultural water in the proposed rule on Produce Safety is that “all agricultural water must be safe and of adequate sanitary quality for its intended use.” The FDA defines “agricultural water” as any water used in the produce production line where it is likely to come into contact with the produce itself, or surfaces that will come into contact with the produce. This includes any irrigation water directly applied to crops, crop sprays, as well as any water used in the harvesting, packing, and holding process.

This new rule will require farmers and growers to inspect their water sources and distribution systems to prevent potential contamination. In addition, agricultural water applied to covered produce will have to be tested, particularly if it comes into contact with the harvestable portion of the crop (prior to, during, or after harvest); directly contacts surfaces that will later touch the food; or is used during hand -washing or sprout irrigation.

 A New Standard for Testing...

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What exactly are the testing requirements? The FDA has provided this helpful flowchart, which can help growers determine whether certain food and equipment needs to be tested, and – if so -- for what pathogens:

(Note: Some growers will have the option of using alternative water testing requirements, provided that the alternate testing method can be backed by the grower with documented scientific data indicating the same level of public health protection as the proposed rule.)d this helpful flowchart, which can help growers determine whether certain food and equipment needs to be tested, and – if so -- for what pathogens:

...And Documentation

Finally, the FSMA’s proposed rule for Produce Safety will also set more stringent recordkeeping requirements, including documentation of all testing done on agricultural water, scientific data supporting the effectiveness of water treatment methods and alternative methods, and treatment monitoring results.

Final agricultural water standards under the proposed Produce Safety pule likely won’t be published in the Federal Register until October 2015—but the estimated compliance dates are:

  • Four years from the effective date (of the final rule) for very small businesses 
  • Three years from the effective date for small businesses 
  • Two years from the effective date for all other farms subject to the rule. 

 Of course, all growers should read the proposed Produce Safety Rule’s Agricultural Water Standards in full for complete information on the law, including exceptions to certain requirements.  In addition please see our previous blog post on this topic.

 Now is a good time to consider an efficient, convenient water treatment solution like the Accu-Tab® system from Axiall Water Treatment Products. Accu-Tab is a scientifically backed hypochlorite tablet that effectively kills harmful bacteria, controls algae, and fights water molds for irrigation purposes. Click here for our irrigation capabilities sheet, including NSF, FDA, and EPA certification information. 

 

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Topics: Irrigation

 
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