NSAC's Blog

Food Safety Comment Deadline Extended; NSAC Releases FSMA Issue Analysis for Farmers

July 26, 2013

Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new proposed regulations detailing standards for food safety on produce farms and in facilities that process food for people to eat.  The rules are not yet final, and FDA is seeking comments from producers, processors, and stakeholders to help shape the final rules before they become law.

All of these rules are part of FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Obama signed into law in 2011.  FSMA is the first major update of federal food safety laws since 1938, and it gives FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods.

FSMA Comment Period Extended

Today, FDA officially announced a final extension of the FSMA comment period deadline by an additional 60 days from September 16 to November 15.

The extension now also grants 120 days for comment on two more FSMA-related rules just released today.  These two new proposed regulations — Foreign Supplier Verification and the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors – require that importers verify their suppliers are employing prevention-based food safety practices and create a system for certifying third-party auditors.

Yet to come are proposed rules on traceability, animal feed, and an important provision Congress wrote into FSMA to clarify that farmers who primarily sell directly to consumers are exempt from FDA registration as “food facilities” and thus from FSMA rules that apply to such registered entities.  No timeline for these missing pieces has been released.

NSAC Releases FSMA Issue Analysis for Farmers and Stakeholders

Because these proposed rules will have wide-ranging impacts on farmers and processors nationwide, NSAC launched a new food safety website earlier this year with resources for farmers, on-farm processors, and consumers.

NSAC is publishing detailed issue analysis on a range of issues of particular concern to sustainable and organic producers and on-farm processors in the coming weeks to help clarify what the rules say and how they may impact farmers’ and processors’ operations.

Four issue pages are currently online, with more to be published in the next 2 weeks:

  • Manure and compost:  The proposed Produce Rule imposes new standards on how manure and compost can be used on farms that produce food covered under the new rules.
  • Domestic and wild animals:  The proposed Produce Rule requires a farmer to take certain preventative measures if there is a reasonable probability that animals (including livestock and wildlife) will contaminate produce covered by the new standards.
  • Conservation practices:  The proposed Produce Rule surprisingly does not proactively support practices that benefit both conservation and food safety goals.
  • Recordkeeping:  Producers subject to the full Produce Rule will be required to record and maintain detailed records about a host of actions taken on-farm, including sanitation, application of manure or compost, water testing, and more.

Farmers who think they may be covered by the proposed Produce and/or Preventive Controls Rules should learn about these proposed new regulations now – and prepare to submit comments to FDA on how these proposed rules may impact their operations.

NSAC’s new site provides an overview and background of the Food Safety Modernization Act, information about the two proposed rules, and instructions on how to comment.  Before delving into the particular sub-issues,  you may wish to start with our 2-page FSMA overview (PDF).  More information will be published in the weeks to come – including more issue analysis and case studies to help illustrate what these proposed rules would look like on the ground.  Sign up to receive alerts when new information becomes available!

Categories: Food Safety

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