Produce Safety Rule News from FDA

When inspections will begin and changes to water requirements

The last two days have brought some important developments related to the implementation of the FDA’s FSMA Produce Safety Rule (PSR):

Water testing requirements will be delayed two to four years 

The FDA previously announced that it would delay the compliance date for water regulations as the agency reassesses those rules. Today FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that the compliance date for the water rules will be extended for two years (except for sprouts). If confirmed in the federal register, most growers would then be required to comply with the PSR’s water regulations by January of 2020.

Additional water testing methods now acceptable

There has been a lot of discussion about the water testing rules that will eventually be part of the PSR. Much of the concern stemmed from the fact that the final Rule published by the FDA specified a single testing methodology (Method 1603) as acceptable under the PSR. That is not a method that is commonly used in the industry, and the FDA received a great deal of feedback on this point.

Yesterday, the agency issued a directive identifying several other methods as equivalent to Method 1603, which will, therefore, be acceptable under the Rule. Although the rules related to water will not be finalized for some time, we believe some of these changes will make it far easier for the industry to comply with the new rule, once they are finalized.

Inspections will begin in 2019

Commissioner Gottlieb also announced that “inspections to assess compliance with the non-water requirements of the Produce Safety Rule for produce other than sprouts will not begin until 2019.” While the FDA still expects farmers to comply with all sections of the PSR other than water on January 26, 2018, no official inspections by FDA or their State partners will be carried out until sometime in 2019. This will allow more time for training and education, according to the FDA.

LGMA Metrics Fully Align with FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Last month, both the California and Arizona LGMA Boards voted to accept updated food safety metrics. This means that 90 percent of the leafy greens produced in the U.S. and certified through the LGMA’s system of mandatory government audits will be in full compliance with new laws under FSMA. Read more about the changes here:

The updated California LGMA metrics will be enforced starting in April of 2018.

More Information:

 Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s speech to NASDA

 Proposed extension of agricultural water compliance dates (FR Notice)

 List of equivalent test methods for agricultural water


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