Want a Thriving Farm or Food Business? Food Safety Modernization Act Rules You MUST Know

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was originally signed into law back in 2011 to limit the risk of foodborne diseases. But this is the year that some of its rules go into effect for small farms and food handling facilities.

Food Safety Modernization Act

So in order to comply with the law, here’s an explanation to help you understand the different parts of the law.

Produce Rule

The produce rule applies to businesses that grow or otherwise handle fruits or vegetables before they are sold to consumers. Some businesses might be exempt from this rule, but only if none of the produce is consumed raw or if you sell less than $25,000 worth of product per year.

If you are responsible for complying with this rule, then you must keep specific records about how your food products are grown and handled and then make those records available to the FDA. The rule also has requirements related to health and hygiene training for workers, soil amendments designed to improve food safety, implementation of water testing practices, and compliance with other rules related to animals, buildings and equipment.

Some businesses may only have to comply with certain parts of the rule. For example, if you already process food in a way that kills harmful pathogens, then you are only responsible for the record keeping measures and requirements. And if you average less than $500,000 in annual sales and if more than half of what you sell goes directly to end customers, then you must keep up with those same record keeping requirements and label all food at the point of sale.

Preventive Controls Rule

The Preventative Controls Rule is one that can affect a larger number of food businesses. It applies to companies that manufacture, process, pack, or hold any kind of food that is made for human consumption. This includes manufacturing businesses, packaging or processing plants, and farms that also pack and hold food on site.

Facilities that are responsible for complying with this rule must register with the FDA and develop a full HARPC plan (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls). So essentially, you must carefully analyze the risks that might come into play within your facility and then determine how you can take steps to minimize those risks. If your business has less than $1 million in human food sales per year and doesn’t do all of its packing and handling on site, then you might be exempt from creating a full HARPC plan, and instead only have to make food handling records available to the FDA. All businesses must also continue to comply with existing food safety practices, like Current Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines.

In terms of timing, large facilities are already subject to some of the rules. Small facilities must begin complying by September 17 of this year. And small farms are subject to compliance standards beginning in January 2019. These are general tips and shouldn’t be considered strict legal advice for your business. If you’re looking for a more full picture of the law, you can view resources directly from the FDA or speak with a qualified legal professional.

Photo via Shutterstock

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