The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) took hold on April 1, 2016.

For the first time, FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has a legislative mandate, commonly called the “Produce Rule,” to require comprehensive, prevention-based controls across the food supply to oversee the standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption. The rule applies to fruits and vegetables for human consumption, that are raw agricultural commodities, and sets standards to minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death.

From the moment raw materials are received to the moment finished goods are shipped, parts or ingredients are tracked and traced to safeguard quality and compliance. This is done to ensure that finished goods match specifications and obtain line-of-sight to the origin of all ingredient or component materials. Knowing when defects are present and identifying what caused them and which lots or batches are affected by them is crucial to minimizing risk, protecting your customer relationships, and driving accountability with suppliers.

There will be a list of criteria that will have to be met and implemented to comply with the above ruling, including documents for traceability of the fresh produce with supplier identification, contact information, batch & lot numbers (of origin), shipment dates when received at distribution facilities and when shipped to specific customers, plus contact information of who and when received. The key here will be to trace all the way back to the grower(s) with harvest date, packing date, field identification, shipping date, and harvesting personnel.

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