FDA and USDA streamline produce safety requirements for farmers

636639630307298594fields.jpg

07 Jun 2018 --- As part of the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture’s effort to strengthen food safety, the US government has launched the USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Audit Program (USDA H-GAP). The new step is part of an ongoing effort to streamline produce safety requirements for farmers.

The joint announcement was made by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently. 

“Government should make things easier for our customers whenever possible and these important improvements help accomplish that goal,” says Secretary Perdue. 

“Specialty crop farmers who take advantage of a USDA Harmonized GAP audit now will have a much greater likelihood of passing an FSMA inspection as well. This means one-stop at USDA helps producers meet federal regulatory requirements, deliver the safest food in the world and grow the market for American-grown food,” he says.

“This is an important first step. We look forward to continuing to work with FDA, other government agencies and especially our state partners to ensure proper training of auditors and inspectors, and to help producers understand changes in the audit.”

While the requirements of both programs are not identical, the relevant technical components in the FDA Produce Safety Rule are covered in the USDA H-GAP Audit Program. 

The aligned components include areas such as biological soil amendments; sprouts; domesticated and wild animals; worker training; health and hygiene; and equipment, tools buildings. 

The alignment will help farmers to assess their food safety practices as they prepare to comply with the Produce Safety Rule. However, the USDA audits are not a substitute for FDA or state regulatory inspections.

“We’re committed to working with USDA to pursue our shared goal of advancing food safety in a way that is efficient and helps farmers meet our regulatory standards. By working together, our two programs can advance these efforts more effectively,” said Commissioner Gottlieb. 

“The announcement will help FDA and states better prioritize our inspectional activities by using USDA H-GAP audit information to prioritize inspectional resources and ultimately enhance our overall ability to protect public health.”

“Inspections are key to helping to ensure that produce safety standards are being met, but they only provide a snapshot in time. Leveraging the data and work being done by USDA will provide us with more information so that we can develop a clearer understanding of the safety and vulnerabilities on produce farms as well as concentrate our oversight and resources where they are most needed.”

The Produce Safety Rule, which went into effect in January 2016, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits & vegetables grown for human consumption. 

The rule is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to implement FSMA. Large farming operations were required to comply with the rule in January 2018. However, the FDA had previously announced that inspections to assess compliance with the Produce Safety Rule for produce other than sprouts would not begin until Spring 2019. Small and very small farms have additional time to comply.

The USDA Harmonized GAP Audit Program is an audit developed as part of the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative, an industry-driven effort to establish food safety GAP standards and audit checklists for pre-harvest and post-harvest operations. 

The Initiative is a collaborative effort on the part of growers, shippers, produce buyers, audit organizations and government agencies, including USDA. The USDA Harmonized GAP audit, in keeping with the Initiative’s goals, applies to all fresh produce commodities, all sizes of on-farm operations and all regions in the US. 

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

Dairy prices rally in Q2 amid stable global markets, says Rabobank report

18 Jun 2018 --- Most dairy commodity prices have been rallying in Q2 2018, according to Rabobank, with mixed results across regions and products. And combined milk supply growth across the Big Seven dairy producers has stalled with the pace of growth below expectations through the Northern Hemisphere spring peak.

Food Ingredients News

“Cultured” meats: FDA commissioners look to foster dialogue

18 Jun 2018 --- The FDA is continually evaluating new areas of food innovation and establishing guidelines on how new technology can safely advance. One such area is the development of products that are intended to resemble conventional meat, poultry and seafood. These “cultured” products are generally made from cells collected from animals that are multiplied using non-traditional food technologies. These technologies could offer specific new opportunities over conventionally developed food products.

Food Ingredients News

Stevia expansion: German biotech company collaborates on innovative process

15 Jun 2018 --- German-based biotechnology company, c-LEcta, together with an unnamed “leading ingredient supplier” have developed a new method to help expand production of a new plant-based sweetener. The plant-based origin and safety of these sweeteners in combination with their very sugar-like taste make them suitable for large-scale use in low- and zero-calorie beverages and foods like soft drinks or diet products.

Food Ingredients News

“Misleading” labels: BEUC criticizes artisanal marketing, calls for tightened EU rules

14 Jun 2018 --- The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) has accused some food manufacturers of using “misleading tricks” on labels by using certain words and phrases that could be seen as “deceptive practices.” At the same time, the BEUC is calling for stronger regulation from the government on what can and cannot be on the label in a bid to eliminate some of the practices currently going on across Europe. The new report entitled “Food labels: tricks of the trade” highlights three practices that, according to the BEUC, “sugar-coat the actual quality of foods and drinks.”

Food Ingredients News

Tereos becomes #2 global sugar producer, displays record operational performance

14 Jun 2018 --- Tereos has reported resilient results in a market context characterized by sugar prices close to their lowest levels in a decade in the world and at a historic low in Europe following the liberalization of the market. In a profoundly mutating environment, the group results benefited from its outstanding operational performance, its international positions and the transformation program engaged. Meanwhile, with record production of 5.3 Mt of sugar, Tereos this year became the world’s second-largest sugar producer.

More Articles