Vegetables

Vegetables that are generally eaten raw are the main subject of Food and Drug Administration inspections under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

SALEM — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to resume on-farm inspections in Oregon under the Produce Safety Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA.

Inspections started nationwide in 2019, but were put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19. FSMA was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011 to prevent food-borne illnesses.

The Produce Safety Rule gives the FDA authority to regulate how certain foods are grown, harvested and processed before reaching consumers. The agency conducts routine inspections that cover everything from worker health and hygiene to equipment sanitation.

The rule applies to commercially sold products that are primarily consumed raw. Products such as potatoes and sweet corn that are normally cooked prior to eating are exempt.

Farms that made less than $25,000 in produce sales on average over the last three years are also not covered under the rule.

Oregon producers can expect to receive phone calls from the FDA as early as this month asking to schedule an inspection, according to the state Department of Agriculture. Farms of all sizes are subject to inspection, though ODA says large farms that weren’t inspected in 2019 will be prioritized over “small” and “very small” farms.

The FDA defines “large” farms as those averaging more than $500,000 in produce sales over the last three years. “Small” farms are those that average between $250,000 to $500,000 in produce sales, while “very small” farms average between $25,000 and $250,000 in produce sales.

ODA offers on-farm readiness reviews to help producers prepare for FSMA inspections. The reviews are free and voluntary, and help to identify a farm’s strengths and weaknesses relative to the Produce Safety Rule.

For more information, call 503-986-4620 or email producesafety@oda.state.or.us.

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