New food defense planning tool for FSMA

FDA has released for 120 days of public comment two of five food safety standards aimed at preventing foodborne illness.

The standards, part of 2011’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), focus on hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for human food, and on growing, harvesting, packing and distributing produce for human consumption. FDA says the rules follow extensive outreach to “the produce industry, the consumer community, other government agencies and the international community.”

The first rule would require manufacturers, processors, packers and holders of food intended for sale in the US to develop a written plan for preventing their products from causing foodborne illness. Plans should identify hazards, specify steps to minimize those hazards, identify monitoring procedures and record monitoring results, and specify what actions will be taken to correct problems that arise. FDA has proposed that most businesses must be in compliance within a year of the rule going into effect, with exceptions for small and very small businesses.

The second rule proposes enforceable, scientific safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms, with larger farms coming into compliance within 26 months. Special focus will be given to identified routes of microbial contamination of produce, including agricultural water, biological soil amendments of animal origin, health and hygiene, animals in the growing area, and equipment, tools and buildings.

The rule covers most raw, unprocessed fruits and vegetables but does not extend to agricultural commodities that are rarely consumed raw, those produced for on-farm consumption, or (with proper documentation) those destined for commercial processing.

Read more about the new standards here.