Produce Safety Program
The Produce Safety Program: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services (NCDA&CS) Produce Safety Program, developed under a cooperative agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), provides support to North Carolina fresh produce farmers through education and outreach to build knowledge of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and assist in developing programs responsive to the PSR. The Produce Safety Program collaborates with NC State University, NCDA&CS Research Stations, and other key stakeholders, such as the NC Fresh Produce Safety Task Force, to provide assistance and technical support to the farming community. In addition to providing education and outreach, the Produce Safety Program is also tasked with conducting produce safety inspections to determine compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.
The Produce Safety Rule: The Food Safety Modernization Act or FSMA, signed into law in 2011, establishes a “farm to fork” approach to food safety with a focus on prevention. The Produce Safety Rule (PSR), one of the rules associated with FSMA, establishes science based, minimum standards for the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables. Farms that produce fresh fruits and vegetables commonly consumed raw may be subject to regulatory inspection due to the PSR, however there are exemptions to the rule.
North Carolina Agribusiness: North Carolina agribusiness is fortunate to have strong leadership in NCDA&CS that supports a food safety culture and investments in food safety efforts; this leadership is evident at the highest level. NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler, Past President of NASDA, and Joe Reardon, Assistant Commissioner for Consumer Protection, have been strong advocates, at the state and national level, for the role of State agencies, optimally State Departments of Agriculture, in developing and delivering outreach, education and inspection programs responsive to the regulatory mandates of the PSR.
Mission: Ensuring North Carolina produce farms are in compliance with the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule for the health of consumers through continuous outreach and education before and while we regulate.
On-Farm Readiness Review:
What is an On-Farm Readiness Review? An On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) is a voluntary, educational, non-regulatory, and confidential review of a farm’s readiness for compliance with the PSR. OFRRs provide farmers with information and resources to assist in meeting the requirements of the PSR and prepare for inspections. During an OFRR, a farmer has access to produce safety experts that will evaluate on-farm practices and conditions to provide feedback on what is going well and identify opportunities for improvement in food safety practices. The reviewers will provide resources to enhance produce safety practices and will suggest produce safety improvements specific to the farm.
Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses:
What is a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course? A Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training Course is a one-day course that will teach farmers and farm workers about the importance of farm food safety, as well as the skills needed to implement those practices. It will cover the FSMA PSR, good agricultural practices, and co-management of natural resources and food safety. Attending a Grower Training Course will satisfy the requirement for covered farms in the PSR that states at least one supervisor must successfully complete a food safety training recognized as adequate by the FDA. It is recommended that growers attend a PSA Grower Training Course prior to having an OFRR.
Register to attend a PSA Grower Training Course. Click on THIS link to see the scheduled PSA Grower Training Courses offered in North Carolina. If you don’t see a course that fits your schedule contact your local NC Extension Office and let them know.