FFVA offers must-have food safety training

FFVA is working to ensure that producers are getting the training they need to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Two of the seven new rules being implemented under the law directly affect growers and handlers of fresh Florida produce: the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule and the Produce Safety rule.

Signed into law in 2011, FSMA covers a wide range of food-safety concerns, from intentional adulteration of the food supply to wild animals to worker health. It’s been called the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years. It was developed to cover all the angles that go into ensuring that the U.S. food supply is safe. The FSMA changes how the country handles food safety incidents by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it from happening in the first place.

The FSMA requires food facilities to evaluate the hazards in their operations, implement and monitor effective measures to prevent contamination, and have a plan in place to take any corrective actions that are necessary.

The Preventive Controls for Human Food rule is now final, and compliance dates for some businesses began in September. The rule requires food facilities to have a written food safety plan that includes a hazard analysis and preventive controls. This plan must be prepared, or its preparation overseen, by one or more “Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals,” a designation that says that person(s) has successfully completed certain training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls or is otherwise qualified through job experience to develop and apply a food safety system.

More information is posted here.

The Produce Safety rule, also now final, has set the earliest compliance dates for some farms to begin one year after the effective date of the final rule. The rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The FDA says that the rule “focuses on setting enforceable standards that are reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable biological hazards into or onto produce and that provide reasonable assurances that produce is not adulterated on account of these hazards.”

Compliance dates and additional information are posted here.

FFVA has partnered with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to offer training programs that either prepare participants to become Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals or provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices and details about how to develop a farm safety plan fulfilling the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.

Since the trainings were first offered last February, 174 people have benefitted from the Preventive Controls rule training, including 23 FFVA members; and 191 participants completed the Produce Safety rule training, 65 of whom were FFVA members.

FFVA producer members may contact Jill Dunlop with any FSMA questions at 321-214-5200.

“The Preventive Controls rule was approved first, so we started rolling out those trainings,” said Jill Dunlop, FFVA’s food safety and sustainability manager. “Most of the people who have taken that training have also had similar training such as HACCP. It’s very much focused on new terminology. For example, we now call critical controls preventive controls,” she said.

The training is broken down into sessions that teach participants how to identify and prevent food safety hazards, monitor hazard-reduction procedures, and develop control measures and methods to document and verify the results of their efforts.

“Once a participant successfully completes the course, he or she will meet the requirements to become a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual,” Dunlop said.

Participants in the grower-oriented Produce Safety rule training will learn about the rule’s requirements in areas such as worker health, hygiene and training; post-harvest handling and sanitation; soil amendments; agricultural water; and how to develop a farm food safety plan.

“The agricultural water chapter has generated the most interest in the grower trainings,” Dunlop said. “We probably spend the most time on that topic and receive the most questions. It’s a critical part of the program.”

Two Preventive Controls Rule trainings are scheduled – Feb. 8 in Lake Alfred and April 24 in Gainesville.

Produce Safety Rule grower trainings have been scheduled as follows:

Jan. 10 – Lake Alfred  

Feb. 7– Live Oak

Feb. 13 – Marianna

March 13 – Arcadia

April 20 – Tavares

May 17 – Palmetto

Click on an individual link to learn more and register.

The FDA has posted detailed information about the FSMA here.

Contact Jill Dunlop via email with any questions or reach her at 321-214-5200.

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