Implementation of the FDA Produce Safety Rule PAR-16-137 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Fruit and Vegetables Proposal to FDA for Implementation of the Produce Safety Rule: Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Handling of Produce for Human Consumption. PAR-16-137 The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), through the Division of Fruit and Vegetables (DFV) will be responsible for establishing and administering a comprehensive Produce Safety Program to promote the safe production of fresh fruits and vegetables and promote compliance with the requirements of FDA's Regulation Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. This program would enable the development of a new produce safety program in Florida in an effort to prevent food borne illnesses linked to farms. As a baseline, FDACS will evaluate existing statutory and/or regulatory authority related to produce safety, and a determination of the changes, to establish, operate and maintain a Produce Safety Program that is supportive of the requirements in FDA?s Produce Safety Regulation. FDACS will also investigate and develop a methodology for the creation of a farm inventory. FDACS will interact with the University of Florida (UF), Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) to educate and inform Florida farming community regarding the Produce Safety Regulation and how to apply the regulation in a manner that will facilitate compliance by the farm. The program will ensure that education, outreach and technical assistance is accessible to all Florida fruit and vegetables farmers. Technical Assistance based on educational programs developed by the Produce Safety Alliance, the Sprout Safety Alliance, Cooperative Extension, National Coordinating Center and Regional Centers and Subject Matter Experts will be available through the County Extension Offices. FDACS will formulate a multi-year plan to implement an enhanced produce safety system. This plan will be based on learned lessons during the design and develop of the Produce Safety Program and the vast experience of the FDACS performing State-Regulated, USDA and GFSI Audits. The ?educate before regulate? approach will be encouraged during the inspections.
Implementation of the FDA Produce Safety Rule PAR-16-137 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Fruit and Vegetables Proposal to FDA for Implementation of the Produce Safety Rule: Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Handling of Produce for Human Consumption. PAR-16-137 The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is requesting funding to establish a State Produce Safety Program, encourage the safe production of fresh fruits and vegetables and to promote compliance with the requirements of the FDA Produce Safety Rule in the state of Florida. Two major limitations for adoption of the sweeping reforms outlined in the PSR include lack of information on farms growing fresh produce and lack of knowledge of food safety practices and specific requirements of the PSR among the fresh produce industry in Florida. The proposed project will address these two major limitations for successful enforcement of the PSR by: i) Developing a methodology and conducting investigative work where a fresh produce farm inventory could be implemented that will yield credible, up-to-date information on the location, magnitude, and complexity of commercial farms that grow fresh produce, and ii) Partnering with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) to develop and implement an educational outreach campaign on food safety practices and the requirements of the PSR that will target growers of fresh produce. In addition, the proposed project will also fill other important gaps by: iii) Conducting an assessment of the necessary size and scope of a regulatory program needed to enforce the PSR in Florida, iv) Recruiting new staff and procuring the necessary equipment to achieve the objectives of the proposed project, v) Evaluating the existing statutory and regulatory authority of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to enforce the PSR, and vi) Developing a multi-year strategic plan outlining relevant performance measures to ensure that the objectives of the proposed project are achieved in a timely manner. Completion of the proposed project will result in the establishment of farm inventory and food safety outreach programs, both of which are of critical need to the fresh produce industry in Florida. In addition, completion of the project will also ensure that critically important information on the scope and size of the regulatory force and the statutory and regulatory changes required to enforce the PSR is developed and made available to the FDA and FDACS, the two agencies with potential to enforce the PSR in the state.