Food Safety

Food Safety Modernization Act

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed in 2011, and final rules went into effect on January 26, 2016. For up-to-date information on the Act, see the FDA’s web page here. For information on the two FSMA rules that most impact local farms, visit these pages:

In Massachusetts, the Department of Agricultural Resources is responsible for implementing the Produce Rule as well as providing training to growers on the rule, and the Department of Public Health is responsible for implementing the Preventive Controls Rule.

Here is a simple guide to FSMA Produce Rule compliance to help you figure out if and when your farm must comply with the FSMA Produce Rule.

Third Party Audits

Audits provide verification that farms have implemented food safety plans and practices. This verification may be required by some buyers.

Farm Food Safety Plans

For many growers, whether or not they are required to comply with FSMA or get a third party audit, a written food safety plan is a good first step to reducing food safety risks. This plan need not be complicated. In many cases, creating a food safety plan won’t add additional tasks or equipment, but will provide a record of practices that are already in place, like hand-washing. Creating the food safety plan may also alert growers to simple food safety practices that may have been overlooked.

Farm Food Safety Training

UMass Extension and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources offer regular training on GAP/food safety principles and the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Training can help growers comply with regulatory and buyer requirements, develop food safety plans, identify and correct areas of weakness, and understand whether food safety inspections or third party audits are needed for their farm business.

Reducing Legal Risks

Try the Farmers’ Guide to Reducing the Legal Risks of a Food Safety Incident, released by Farm Commons. This resource will help farmers to understand the legal aspects of food safety, some of the many risks that exist, how to reduce the likelihood of these risks materializing, and how to recover in case they do materialize – because bad things can happen to even the best farmers.

More specifically, the guide will help farmers to understand the following situations and the necessary steps to take in each case:

  • How personal injury lawsuits function
  • How contracts can create additional liability
  • The legal aspects of a recall
  • The potential for government involvement in a food safety outbreak

Ready-to-Eat Salad Greens

CISA has generated detailed additional information for producers of ready-to-eat salad greens here.

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