In Florida, inspections have begun for large produce growers under the Food Safety Modernization Act, Produce Safety Rule (FSMA, PSR). While many small farms fall under a qualified exemption under the rule, it’s still a good idea to take advantage of an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR), a free service offered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
An On-Farm Readiness Review is an educational opportunity intended to walk producers through what an actual inspection on their farm may look like, before a real inspection is conducted under FSMA.
The OFRR gives producers insight into the kinds of things an inspector might be looking for. It could help you make food safety improvements to your operation, which is important to all farms, no matter the size. It could also demonstrate to buyers the steps you’ve made to make food safety a priority. It shows you have a plan in place to address harvest/post harvest methods, food contact surfaces, establishing clean breaks, educating workers about food safety handling, and documenting activities on the farm as they relate to preventing contamination of fresh produce.
Producers often note the rules in FSMA are vague. But after you participate in an OFRR you might see that these vague rules are created on purpose. Each farm is different, and while risk-based assessments are grounded in a scientific approach, policies, practices and activities that lessen the risk of contamination can really only be done by understanding the situation on the individual farm. An OFRR could be a great way to get some of your questions answered and figure on what kinds of food safety improvements could be made.
Take a look at my quick interview with PSR Outreach and Education Coordinator, Kirby Quam of FDACS to learn about how your small farm could benefit from an OFRR.
Sign up for an OFRR here: On-Farm Readiness Review / Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule / Fruit and Vegetables / Agriculture Industry / Home – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (fdacs.gov)