New food safety regulations? What!?? Will they affect me? I can imagine many of you are thinking that if you have heard about the US FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and wondering if and how it will affect Vermont food producers and processors. Many food businesses in Vermont will likely be impacted in some way- directly or indirectly, although some will be exempted from the regulations due to their small size or the products they produce.
The Act itself was signed into law in January 2011. The proposed rules for two of the main mandates of the law were released in January 2013, including Preventative Controls for Human Food (which affects the value-added processing of foods) and Produce Safety (which affects sales of fresh whole fruits and vegetables). Here is some introductory information on the proposed rules and how you can make comments.
1) FDA maintains an updated website with a great deal of information on FSMA, including a link for individuals to get FSMA updates by email. The website also includes the following useful information:
- an overview of the proposed rules
- FDA fact sheets on proposed rules (Preventative Controls and Produce Safety)
- information on public meetings that will be held across the US concerning the proposed rules
- more information on other aspects of the FSMA mandate
2) UVM Extension has prepared some fact sheets to help Vermont produce growers and value-added food processors understand if and how the proposed rules may apply to them, which are available from the Vermont Food Safety Task Force website.
3) It is very important to know that these two rules are only in the proposal stage and are NOT final regulations at this point. They are open to public comment and requests for clarification. The 120 day comment period ends on May 16, 2013. There are a number of ways that you can comment:
- Submit your comments online
- Submit written comments to FDA by fax or mail
- Join the Vermont Food Safety Task Force sub-group on FSMA to work together to submit comments.
4) The Vermont Food Safety Task Force just formed a sub-group further discuss and address the FSMA proposed rules and how they will impact stakeholders in Vermont. If you are interested in being part of this group, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also wanted to let you know that as part of the Vermont New Farmer Project, UVM Extension is holding a number of upcoming workshops that you can sign up for in various aspects of food safety for food producers and processors, including food labeling, food safety regulations, and both a 3 hour and a 3day HACCP course for food processors and meat processors.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have questions on this information or any other areas of food safety.