Produce Safety Program
With a focus on food safety, the OSV has begun working toward implementation of the new federally-mandated Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The Alaska Produce Safety Program will work closely with UAF's Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational opportunities, and to ensure that growers and other stakeholders throughout the state continue to meet the federal requirements for safe production, harvest, and handling practices for fresh fruits and vegetables.
FSMA Produce Safety Rule
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed by congress in 2011 and is the first major overhaul of food safety regulations in the United States in over 70 years. The FSMA Produce Safety Rule (PSR) provides basic food safety oversight for certain types of fresh produce, with the goal of preventing foodborne illness rather than responding to it after it occurs. The seven regulations developed under FSMA protect the safety of human and animal food, both imported and domestic. Certain provisions of FSMA took effect immediately, including giving the FDA authority to enact mandatory food recalls in the event of an outbreak. Others are being phased in gradually.
Very few Alaskan farms will be subject to the full extent of the FSMA PSR. Criteria for farms that fall under these federal requirements are based on the size of the farm and whether they sell to a qualified end user. The PSR requirements apply to the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of certain types of whole, unprocessed produce that are generally consumed raw. This is due to the increased risk posed by microbial contamination in fruits and vegetables that are not processed or cooked before consumption.
The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) requires growers to:
- Test their agricultural water
- Enact worker health, hygiene, and food safety training measures
- Treat and use soil amendments properly (compost, manure, fish waste)
- Prevent contamination of produce by wild and domestic animals
- Provide for safe handling and sanitation of produce
- Provide for proper construction, maintenance, and cleaning of equipment, buildings, and tools used to store and handle produce
- Keep certain records
These requirements do NOT apply to food that is consumed on the farm, commodities that are generally cooked before being consumed, or to produce that is destined for commercial processing that will adequately reduce the presence of microorganisms. There are additional requirements for growing sprouts, due to the high incidence of foodborne illness associated with them.
Most Alaskan farms will either be exempt from the PSR entirely or eligible for a "qualified exemption."
OSV Produce Growers Food Safety Workshop
This Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved course will satisfy the Grower Training course requirements under the PSR. The course and materials are free at this time.
The course will provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), information on the PSR requirements, and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan. It is open to anyone interested in learning more about produce safety and Good Agricultural Practices!
We will be offering these workshops on an ongoing basis throughout the state. If you would like to schedule a training session in your area, please let us know!
- Thank you to all of the 220 growers who have attended our workshops! We are done for the season, but expect to hold more workshops this fall and winter once the growing season winds down. If you would like to schedule a training before then, or are interested in having an On-Farm Readiness Review, please contact us at email@example.com.
This webpage was made possible by Grant Number 5U18FD005893 from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The contents of this webpage are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the FDA.