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Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the federal food safety law that applies to farms growing fruits and vegetables that may be eaten raw. FSMA is intended to reduce the risk of microbial contamination of fresh produce by shifting focus from responding to contamination towards preventing it. It will be administered by the federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

FSMA consists of 7 sets of rules, two of which may be of particular interest to New England producers because of their potential impact on current farm operations.

The Produce Safety Rule applies to "farms" or those who grow, harvest, pack or hold covered produce. The rules apply to produce generally eaten raw like greens, melons, tomatoes, apples, etc. (aka "covered produce" or raw agricultural commodities "RAC's"). They do not apply to produce not eaten raw like sweet corn, potatoes, pumpkins, etc. Also not covered is produce grown for personal consumption, on farm consumption, or on another farm under the same ownership.

The Preventive Controls Rule applies to "facilities" that manufacture, process, pack or hold human food and to operations that buy and resell products grown on other farms. These facilities will need to register with the federal government and comply with regulations outlined in the preventive controls portion of the rule. Facilities are defined in the rules and cover operations that modify or process produce from its original state.

To find out if you may be covered by or exempted from FSMA, see this flowchart.

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