Mark Ritenour, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) post-harvest Extension specialist, provided updates about food-safety requirements at the recent Florida Citrus Show in Fort Pierce. His focus was on impacts fresh fruit growers and packers will feel from the Food Safety Modernization Act’s requirement that the Food and Drug Administration rewrite its Produce Safety Rule.
Ritenour said rule changes are currently available for comment until April 22. He encouraged growers and packers to review the draft and offer comments.
Training in required to ensure farms and packers are in compliance with the rule. Ritenour guessed that only 20 or 25 percent of all Florida farms have completed the required training. “So we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
Ritenour urged producers to have an on-farm readiness review performed. These reviews are a partnership between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and UF/IFAS. “They’ve really developed a nice program where they’ll go out to the farm,” interview the farmer and walk him or her through requirements and review the forms that need to be filled out, he said. “Just so you can see how all the rules might actually apply to your operation … It’s really a training opportunity. It’s free … It’s all for you to take advantage of.” The on-farm readiness review shows farmers what to expect before an inspector comes to the farm, he added.
Hear more from Ritenour:
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