Listening session on proposed FDA produce safety rule August 19th

July 19, 2013

For more information, contact: Ron Dyer at 207-287-7522

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry’s Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations to hold listening session on proposed FDA produce safety rule August 19th

AUGUSTA – Produce growers and packers can learn more about the federal government’s proposed food safety rule at a listening session August 19th at the Augusta State Armory. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011 represents the most comprehensive reform of food regulation in more than 70 years. A key component of the FSMA is a mandate to shift food safety efforts from reaction to prevention.

Individuals will have the opportunity to ask questions about the Produce Safety Rule during the session, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“The produce safety rule will mean big changes for Maine produce growers and packers,” said Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, who will be the meeting’s host. “This is an important opportunity to hear from the Food and Drug Administration and offer comments.”

The Act directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of raw agricultural commodities. In response to this directive, FDA developed a proposed rule known as the Produce Safety Rule which focuses on measures that produce farmers and packers should take to prevent the contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rule proposes five sets of standards designed to address significant routes of microbial contamination of produce. The five sets of standards are: (1) agricultural water; (2) biological soil amendments; (3) employee health and hygiene; (4) animal intrusion into growing areas; and (5) equipment, tools and buildings.

On January 4, 2013, the FDA released the proposed rule for public comment. The agency has been strongly encouraged by most of the New England Congressional members, including Maine’s delegation, to hold listening sessions such as this to hear from more farmers. At the meeting, Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine, will present information about the rule.

State Agriculture Departments will be active partners in implementing food and safety programs to help growers comply with the new rules.

More detailed information regarding the August 19th listening session agenda will soon be available. Questions about the event can be answered by contacting the Department’s Quality Assurance and Regulations Division at (207)287-3841. For those not able not attend the listening session, comments can be made directly to the FDA at www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm261689