The federal Food Safety Modernization Act is a hot topic for farmers producing foods for resale. And, as Larry Grunden, Penn State Extension's food safety and quality educator, told a jammed room of farmers recently at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference, not all the rules are written yet and some that are written have indirect effects..
While the Food and Drug Administration says farmers grossing less than $25,000 are generally exempt from the FSMA regulations, they aren't necessarily so. Grunden explains: "The Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices guidelines are voluntary and apply to growers, packing and storage facilities and wholesale distributors. But many produce buyers from grocery stores, restaurants and distributors now require proof of GAP/GHP compliance through third-party inspections as a condition for purchase."
GAP/GHP generally focus on clean soil, clean hands, clean water and clean surfaces for basic food safety. It covers facilities, equipment, water and worker hygiene. The standards are still in the proposed stage, covering water for irrigation and processing, soil amendments, control of domesticated animals and wild animals.
If you process foods for sale, you'll come under Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines, which is where recordkeeping kicks in big time. GMP's will require written preventive food safety plans, and likely a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan better known as a HACCP plan. And, all ingredients must be traceable to their original sources.
Some other rules still being refined may come into play. One is that wholesale food purchases from vendors may be required to be rejected if at temperatures above 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Another may require separate storage for allergen-related products.