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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: USDA Modernization

By Alma Graham, State Legislative Committee Director

  April 5, 2018 --

In 2011 the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law. The task of administering this program was assigned to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This was in response to multiple food borne disease outbreaks that occurred and were traced to food products such as lettuce and spinach. This act now requires food product processors to develop written food safety plans to prevent contamination issues before the product enters into the marketplace.

In Connecticut, the Governor has tasked the Department of Agriculture (DoAg) as the agency responsible for enforcing this program. The Department of Agriculture has been working with other agencies to develop the FSMA program in Connecticut. They have been meeting with other groups and agencies getting feedback to develop Produce Safety Rules for the FSMA. DoAg has also been in contact with other states while developing the Produce Safety Rules. These rules are only concerning products that are sold for human consumption and usually consumed raw.

As of January some of these new rules were placed in affect for larger food growers. They will be phasing in rules for smaller growers over the next three years. A major portion of this program requires setting up education outreach programs and technical assistance for the industry. DoAg has entered into an agreement with the University of Connecticut’s Extension Service to provide education, outreach, and technical services. Producers will be required to attend a Product Safety Alliance Growers Training Course. UConn will create a farm inventory of fruit and vegetable growers. Then this summer DoAg will offer On-Farm Readiness Reviews for any farm participating in the Growers Training Course. They will help prepare the farms for future regulatory inspections.

Small farms will not be required to participate in the program but they may have some issues selling products to some customers who may require food safety compliance verification. DoAG has offered to assist small farms if they request help. DoAg is encouraging all farms and food industries to participate in the training course.

A few years ago while at the Legislative Fly-In in Washington one of the topics that we were supporting was the Food Safety Act. This was one of Rep. DeLauro’s major focuses at the time. It is nice to see the results of this act.



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