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Food Safety: A Responsibility for Everyone

September 2019

According to a recent article in California Ag Today, farmers can expect food safety inspections to be in their future. The Produce Safety Program, under the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), is working to have farmers comply with both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDFA produce safety rules through inspections of farms. Large operations with annual sales greater than $500,000, will be the first of the 20,000 farms to be inspected according to the produce safety rule. Inspections will not be unforeseen, and will only be done through set appointments. The goal of the Produce Safety Program is to “educate than regulate,” meaning both the FDA and CDFA want to inform producers about the legal compliances within food safety, then take action and implement them within the operations.

On September 10th, 2019 the FDA announced a cooperative agreement with the National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) toward the produce safety rule. This agreement is said, “to provide critical information and resources to help state and territorial regulatory agencies plan and help carry out the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.” The agreement will provide funding that will allow NASDA to help state and territorial produce safety regulatory programs to encourage safe production of crops, understand the Produce Safety Rule, and how to comply with the requirements of the rule. The overall goal of the 5-year cooperative agreement is to develop a nationally integrated food safety system, by ensuring consistency of produce safety programs with the Produce Safety Rule.

To help implement the compliances, NASDA will also host a National Consortium meeting including all state and territorial agencies to assist in their understanding of the new produce safety rule. The meeting will provide program updates, share the best practices, and the opportunity for feedback to the FDA for enhancements and program adjustments. Along with the National Consortium, NASDA will work closely with the FDA to prepare and implement the On-Farm Readiness Review system and develop national produce safety regulatory program that promotes a stable foundation of produce safety.

From the consumer to the producer, and the retailer to the government officials, everyone is a stakeholder in the mission to achieve proficient food safety. There is a common goal to prevent the outbreak of viruses caused by pathogens rather than suffer from the consequences. The consumer is responsible for washing their produce to provide safe and healthy food for their family and themselves. The retailer and processors are responsible for making sure produce is kept in a clean area and packaged for the safety of consumers. The government officials make sure all parts of the process are held at safe and healthy standards for all. The farmer is the very base of the triangle, whereas if it’s not clean produce from the beginning, it may cause a domino effect throughout the whole process. Attaining food safety is a team effort through the entire agriculture community.

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