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US: Food Safety Modernization Act could impact growers exempt from the new federal rules

Although greenhouse and controlled environment agriculture growers may be exempt from implementing Food Safety Modernization Act rules, produce buyers may make compliance mandatory.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people are sickened each year by foodborne pathogens. Of those people about 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year.

On Nov. 13, 2015, U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized three rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The purpose of FSMA, according to a FDA press release is to prevent foodborne illness “that, for the first time, establish enforceable safety standards for produce farms and makes importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.” FDA said FSMA’s “final rules will help produce farmers and food importers take steps to prevent problems before they occur.”

“The recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella in imported cucumbers that has killed four Americans, hospitalized 157 and sickened hundreds more, is exactly the kind of outbreak these rules can help prevent,” said Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “The FDA is working with partners across the government and industry to prevent foodborne outbreaks. The rules will help better protect consumers from foodborne illness and strengthen their confidence that modern preventive practices are in place, no matter where in the world the food is produced.”

The three final rules released by FDA in November are the Produce Safety rule, the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule and the Accredited Third-Party Certification rule. FDA has finalized five of the seven major rules that implement the core of FSMA. In September 2015, FDA released the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, which mandates preventive practices in food processing and storage facilities.

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