Water testing standards that are a key part of the produce safety requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are undergoing a quiet review that could extend the compliance date for the Produce Safety Rule beyond January 2018.
Produce industry leaders learned in mid-February during a meeting with U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials led by acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff that they’d be getting the review with the likely delay in compliance.
FDA’s review is apparently going to extend beyond the water quality section of the Produce Safety rule due to industry opposition. In addition to water quality, the produce industry has registered concerns about packing house regulations being too vague and confusing in addition to being unclear about which rules apply to certain operations.
Up until now, FDA has defended the water testing included in the rule while pricey, has a big payback in food safety.
The review and subsequent delay means growers likely will be tapping into a $60 million fund before they have to comply with FSMA. That’s because compliance is slowing down, but USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) is anxious to get moving on its new Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
The deadline for the states to apply for the money was moved up one month to June. 7. The money “is available” to support farmers growing fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery or specialty crops.
Find more information on the water testing standards HERE.