The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has laid the groundwork for the largest allocation of funds yet – $19 million – to help state agencies support implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The funds will support implementation of the Produce Safety rule, which became final in November 2015 and establishes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms.
Implementation of the produce rule is dependent on partnerships between FDA and the states, both to deliver education and technical assistance and to provide on-going inspection, compliance, and oversight. FDA announced a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications for cooperative agreements with state regulatory agencies to help plan for and develop the infrastructure needed to implement the Produce Safety Rule.
Applicants are encouraged to utilize these funds for planning, infrastructure building, training and education, and other related activities. Up to 55 awards may be awarded.
Editors Insight: Food industry organizations at the state level should make sure their regulatory agencies are acting on this opportunity. The FDA wisely recognizes that state regulatory agencies have a better understanding and knowledge of the specific growing and harvesting practices in their areas and many have long standing relationships with produce growers and produce associations.
One of the biggest questions many food companies have about FSMA is how the rules are going to be enforced. The rules have the potential to improve food safety but they will accomplish nothing without enforcement.
This $19 million funding commitment marks an important step in supporting the FSMA. Food industry organizations at the state level should make sure regulatory agencies are aware of this money and should offer to assist in any way possible. 3-18-16 By Elliot Maras