FDA guidance will help industry, Stenzel says

The Food and Administration's recent draft food safety guidance should help fresh produce operations comply with new food safety rules.

"The extension and clarification of compliance dates released yesterday by FDA, combined with the draft guidance documents released yesterday and today, enable the fresh produce industry to better understand how to comply with the applicable rules," Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association, said in an Aug. 24 statement. "We appreciate that FDA heard and responded to our concerns and requests."

The FDA recognizes, Stenzel said in the statement, that packinghouses should have the same amount of time to prepare for compliance regardless of whether they are located on or off a farm.

The extended compliance dates for packinghouses that are subject to the preventive controls rule, starting Jan. 26 of 2018, will allow United Fresh to work with FDA and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance to develop a modified curriculum for those operations, Stenzel said.

"With the first compliance deadline for the preventive controls rule less than a month away, our members continue to ask questions about which rule(s) they are subject to," Stenzel said in the statement. "We are hopeful that the draft guidance pertaining to industry classification
for farms and facilities released today will provide examples that help the fresh produce industry understand which rules apply to them."

With a view to making food safety rules practical for the industry, Stenzel said United Fresh will review draft guidance on classifying farms and facilities, as well as draft guidance supporting implementation of the preventive controls for human food rule.