Ag News

SE Fruit & Vegetable Conference features food safety products

Making sure your farm’s produce business is compliant with rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) can be a maze of confusion, and on some points, implementation of the 2011 law is still a work in progress.

The Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference, held Jan. 11-14 in Savannah, featured food safety curriculum with the goal of clarifying which farms are subject to FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, (PCFHR) two of more than a dozen rules under FSMA’s umbrella.

A key session addressed how FSMA rules apply to roadside stands.

In the Roadside Markets session, UGA Professor and Extension Foods Specialist Judy Harrison discussed PSR’s impact on roadside stands.

“What does FSMA mean for your market? Well, maybe nothing,” Harrison said. “If you sell food products directly to consumers and the annual monetary value of your sales to those consumers exceeds your sales to all other buyers, then you are likely not going to be affected by FSMA.”

Harrison outlined exemptions to PSR, which applies to producers of raw agricultural products sold in their whole or natural state. Harrison noted the exemptions:  produce grown for one’s own personal consumption; produce that is fresh cut or is not a raw agricultural commodity; or food grains.

Also exempt are: foods that the FDA considers to be seldom eaten raw, like various beans, chickpeas or potatoes (The complete list can be found here:; produce sold to a processor who will give it a “kill step” to eliminate microorganisms; produce sold directly to the end user.

There are also some potential income-based qualified exemptions: a three-year sales average of $25,000 or less; average produce sales of more than $25,000 but less than $500,000 in total food sales; or if sales to qualified end users exceed sales to all other customers combined.

Harrison noted that if a farm or roadside stand’s food makes someone sick or causes an outbreak of a foodborne illness, exemptions can be withdrawn.

“Even if you are exempt from the produce safety rule and the preventive controls rule for human food, you still have a responsibility to sell safe food,” Harrison said.

According to the Produce Safety Alliance, food businesses with more than $500,000 in sales must be compliant by Jan. 26. Businesses with sales between $250,000 and $500,000, which the FDA refers to as small businesses, have until Jan. 28, 2019 to be PSR compliant and PCFHR complaint. Businesses with sales between $25,000 and $250,000 have until Jan. 27. 2020 to be compliant in the absence of any exemption.