Produce safety reviews available

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Cabbage at Artisan Acres
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture is now offering produce growers free Food and Drug Administration-approved consultations to help farmers comply with the upcoming Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

ODA’s Division of Food Safety, through a cooperative agreement with the FDA, is responsible for enforcing the Produce Safety rule in Ohio. Farm inspections will begin in the spring of 2019, but prior to inspections, ODA staff is offering these voluntary consultation visits to help growers identify what steps they may need to take to comply with the produce safety rule before regulatory inspections begin.

Farms can request a farm consultation visit to determine specific requirements to their farm. This service is offered as a one-day course that provides one-on-one training in which trained and certified ODA staff will visit farms and walk growers through what will be expected with new federal regulations on their farm.

In addition to the consultation, farms will also receive resource materials that will help aid in compliance. Growers unsure if their farm is subject to the Produce Safety rule can review FDA’s FSMA regulation document or contact ODA for additional assistance.

Produce farms that are exempt from the rule are welcome to schedule consultation visits, as some of the requirements are similar to those required by third-party food safety auditors. FSMA, which was signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011, is the most comprehensive reform of the nation’s food safety laws since 1938.

Its goal is to better protect public health by shifting U.S. food supply safety efforts from a response approach to one of prevention. FSMA is comprised of seven rules that span the entire food supply chain.

Of these rules, the one most likely to impact produce growers is the Produce Safety rule. For more information on FSMA, the Produce Safety rule or to schedule your on-farm consultation visit agri.ohio.gov or call (614) 600-4272.

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