Following the approval of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) first two rules in September, the FDA has taken another step towards its goal of food safety with the finalization of three more rules. Submitted to the Federal Register for review on November 2, the FSMA rules were approved and released in a pre-publication format on November 13. All three rules will be formally published next Friday, November 27.
The newly-finalized rules deal with two major areas of concern in regard to food safety: produce, and imported goods. The Produce Safety Rule institutes a veritable bushel of compliance requirements for the growing, harvesting, packaging, and storage of produce on farms. Under this rule, new standards will be established to ensure that all facets of a farm (such as the water and soil, domesticated and/or wild animals, equipment, tools, and facilities) meet the necessary levels of safety (for insight into the challenges and complexities behind determining what exactly constitutes a “farm,” please see this recent article from Food Safety News). From a personnel side, this rule contains provisions for the health and hygiene of workers, as well as a number of training requirements.
The other two FSMA rules both address imported food products. The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs Rule brings with it the requirement that U.S. importers institute supplier verification procedures to ensure that foreign items meet the same standards that are imposed on domestic goods. This emphasis on guaranteeing the safety of imported food products is further bolstered by the Accredited Third-Party Certification Rule, which contains provisions for the accreditation of third party organizations tasked with the responsibility of auditing and certifying foreign food entities and facilities.
Companies that are impacted by the changes mandated in these various FSMA rules should have ample time to react before having to face additional requirements, as the next rule due for finalization (the Sanitary Transportation Rule), is not scheduled for submission until March 31, 2016.
To read final versions of these rules, please click on the following: