Food safety regulations in the US and their impact on international produce growers and importers

E.A. Bihn, G.L. Wall, M.C. Humiston
The United States of America (US) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (also known as Produce Safety Rule) is the first ever federal regulation governing the production of fresh produce including berry crops. FSMA also impacts those interested in importing fresh produce into the US under the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). The focus of this presentation will be the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, efforts made to educate the produce industry, and challenges that have been identified to reach compliance as well as reduce microbial food safety risks. This will include how good agricultural practices (GAPs) overlap with regulatory requirements, challenges faced by growers as they implement practices, and the possible impacts to international growers and produce companies interested in importing into the US. The topic of microbial food safety in produce crops is relevant to all growers, educators, and produce industry members as foodborne illnesses associated with berry crops have had a negative economic impact on the industry as a whole. Foodborne illness outbreaks influence consumers both through negative health consequences as well as their purchasing decisions in the marketplace. There has been a focused effort through the Produce Safety Alliance to expand grower and industry understanding of the requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule through the development of a standardized curriculum that meets provision § 112.22(c) expectations that “at least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration”. Between September 2016-March 2019, 1,210 US and 454 International PSA Grower Trainings have been held resulting in 36,801 participants trained. Feedback from training participants has been used to guide development of new educational materials and highlighted additional food safety training needs in the berry industry.
Bihn, E.A., Wall, G.L. and Humiston, M.C. (2020). Food safety regulations in the US and their impact on international produce growers and importers. Acta Hortic. 1277, 441-448
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1277.63
Food Safety Modernization Act, produce safety rule, produce safety, good agricultural practices, microbial contamination, foodborne illnesses

Acta Horticulturae