The first FDA Proposed Produce Food Safety Rule Q & A conference call, coordinated by the Produce Safety Alliance, was held yesterday. This conference call focused on exemptions to the proposed rule. Here are the highlights of yesterday’s conference call:
- How are average annual sales for a farm calculated?
- Farm Facility (Packinghouse) Registration, are farms exempt?
- At what point does the FDA Preventative Controls rule apply to a farm?
- Are there any exemptions to the labeling of product to be sold?
“Food” is defined as any and all food produced for human or animal consumption (corn, wheat, soybeans etc.) on a farm. This definition is derived from the FDA Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act part 201F. This definition is highly important in determining a farms need for compliance with the FSMA produce safety rule. All farms need to know what qualifies as food sold on their farm and the dollar amount of food sold. If your farm sells more than $25,000 of food (as defined above) and the majority of your sales are to wholesale buyers you will need to comply with this rule. Much discussion took place during this conference call since “food” defined this way includes field crop production. The rule as it currently stands will affect many NJ farms. For example: A farm produces soybeans and field corn on 90% of its land and uses 5% of that land for vegetable production. The fresh produce grown on the farm is sold at their farm stand. More than 50% of the food produced on the farm is sold into the wholesale grain market and therefore the farm must comply with the FSMA produce rule. The question was posed about when livestock becomes a food sale. If the animal is sold live it is not a food sale, once the animal is killed and then sold it qualifies as a food sale.
2. Farm Facility (Packinghouse) Registration, are farms exempt? Farms that grow and harvest their own product are exempt from the facility registration rule. If the farm purchases product from another farm to sell at their own retail operation and/ or via wholesale transactions they are then considered a facility and are required to register.
3. At what point does the FDA Preventative Controls rule apply to a farm? If you don’t grow it, but you sell it, the preventative control rule applies to you. If you are growing fruits and vegetables and then doing anything beyond standard practices to prepare that fruit or vegetable for sale as a whole product, the preventive control rule applies to you. Drying, baking, cutting, and mixing products all fall under the preventative control rule.
4. Are there any exemptions to the labeling of product to be sold? All products that are harvested to be sold will need to comply with the labeling portion of the proposed rule, regardless of a farms exemption from the FDA Proposed Produce Food Safety Rule. Any packaged produce must be labeled with the farm name and business address on the master container. Produce grown for direct market sales does not need to be labeled but the farm name and street address do need to be prominently displayed at the point of sale location. A sign or banner with this information is acceptable.
If you have opinions about this rule please comment to the FDA! Comments can be made online HERE. The next Q&A conference call on March 25 at 11 AM will cover agricultural water. Anyone can participate by dialing toll-free 866-906-9888 and entering the passcode: 8140591.