New Standards for Produce Safety in US Passed

The United States Food and Drug administration has finalized the Food Safety Modernization Act as of the mid November 2015. This is a list of standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption for domestic farms that grow produce for human consumption. It regulates the production as well importation of produce in the U.S. It is designed to prevent foodborne illnesses caused by tainted produce that affect millions of American every year. The CDC estimates that plants account for approximately 40% (23,500 cases) of annual hospitalization and 25% of annual deaths (363 cases) due to domestically acquired food borne illnesses.
In the released documents from the FDA, the agency establishes “Science based minimum standard for safe growing, harvesting, packaging and hold of produce, meaning fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.”

The final rule focuses on six major routes of contamination:
1. Worker training and health and hygiene
– Prevent contamination of produce and food contact surfaces by infected person
2. Agricultural water
– To ensure water quality used for produce
– Establishes 2 sets of criteria for microbial water quality
– Both are based on presence of generic E. coli
– Testing – untreated surface water & ground water
3. Biological soil amendments
– Raw manure – sets recommended interval between harvesting manure and application
– Stabilized compost
– Microbial standards – set limits on detectable amount of bacteria
4. Domesticated and wild animals
– For animals that may graze on or near land that produce produce for consumption.
-Farmers are required to take all measures reasonably necessary to identify and not harvest produce that is likely to be contaminated
5. Sprouts
– Have been major source of foodborne illness between 1996-2014
-43 outbreaks – 2,405 illnesses and 171 hospitalizations
-3 deaths
– Include first documented outbreak of listeria monocytogenes associated with sprouts in the US
– Frequently contaminated
– Prevent the introduction of dangerous microbes into/onto seeds/beans used for sprouting
– Testing water/environment
6. Equipment, tools and buildings
– Establish standards – prevent sources and inadequate sanitation from contaminating produce

The majority of farms are required to comply with the standards in two years.
Final rule were also passed on foreign supplier verification programs (FSVP) for importers of food for humans and animals. Importers are required to ensure that the food imported to the US has been produced in a manner that meets US safety standards through hazard analysis. Hazard analysis requires the importer to identify and evaluated reasonably foreseeable hazards for each type of food it imports and determine any hazard that require control.
The hazards are:
1. Biological – parasites & disease causing bacteria
2. Chemical – pesticides & drug residues
3. physical – glass