Jan 19, 2023
FDA issues reminder on harvest, postharvest water rule enforcement

The Food and Drug Administration is reminding produce growers that the discretion period for enforcing harvest and postharvest agricultural water safety rules is ending.

On Jan. 13, the FDA released a fact sheet that provides guidance for produce stakeholders about the upcoming ending of intended enforcement discretion period for harvest and postharvest agricultural water.

The intended enforcement discretion period for agricultural water provisions for covered produce in the Produce Safety Rule formally ends on Jan. 26 for all businesses other than small and very small businesses, according to a news release.

To help prepare growers, the FDA fact sheet provides questions and answers on the requirements.

In December 2021, the FDA issued a proposed rule that would revise subpart E of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule to change certain preharvest agricultural water requirements for covered produce other than sprouts. The proposal did not include changes to the harvest and postharvest requirements for agricultural water.

Subsequently, the FDA issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking
to extend the compliance dates for the preharvest requirements and announced end dates for the intended enforcement discretion provided for the harvest and post-harvest agricultural water requirements. The end dates are:

  • January 26, 2025, for very small businesses.
  • January 26, 2024, for small businesses.
  • January 26, 2023, for all other businesses.

“As has been done with other FSMA rules, the FDA plans to take an educational posture for the harvest and postharvest requirements as we begin implementing those requirements,” FDA officials said in the release. “During the first year after the end of the intended enforcement discretion period, FDA will work closely with international, state and industry partners during this time to advance training, technical assistance, educational visits, and on-farm readiness reviews to prepare both farmers and regulators for implementing these provisions.”

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