Arkansas Produce Safety
Keeping up with regulations to ensure your farm is using best practices can be daunting.
Extension can provide fundamental, science-based, on-farm food safety knowledge to
fresh fruit and vegetable farmers, packers, regulatory personnel and others interested
in the safety of fresh produce in Arkansas.
What are the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety rule?
The FSMA is a federal act that requires producers and processors of fresh fruits and
vegetables to implement certain controls to prevent contamination of our nation’s
food system. The act gives power to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish
regulations for the production of fresh fruits and vegetables (The Produce Safety Rule) and regulations for processors (The Preventive Controls Rule).
View the September 2017 Updated Guidance Report
The Small Entity Compliance Guide (SECG) provides information that can help small and very small businesses understand
how the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule apply to them. Specifically, the SECG can help farmers determine whether they are
eligible for a qualified exemption, which would modify the requirements they are subject
to under the Produce Safety Rule. The SECG can also help them understand those modified
Does the Produce Safety rule apply to me?
The Produce Safety Rule went into effect in January 2018.
If you produce fruits and vegetables that are sold and then consumed raw (i.e lettuce,
apples, etc), and you gross more than $25,000 (adjusted for inflation) per year the short answer is Yes. Rules for when producers must be in compliance
with the new regulations, including participating in specialized training and when
or if they may be audited vary based on the size of the operation. We recommend visiting
the links to the right to learn more. Even producers who gross less than $25,000 (3
year average) should follow basic food safety rules as a part of good farm management
How is the FSMA Produce Safety Rule different from GAP?
The basic difference between these two systems is that FSMA is a federally mandated
program growers will be required to comply with, whereas GAP is a market driven program
that is not required by law. GAP certification is often a requirement for selling
to markets like grocery stores or regional distributors. Both systems share many of
the same principals, but they are not identical. Growers who have GAP certification are not automatically compliant with FSMA.
Experience with GAP certification however will likely help you to be well on your
way to compliance with FSMA. One unique difference is that FSMA will require attendance
at an FDA approved food safety training course.
How can I get help to understand how this relates to my farm?
The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is currently offering technical
assistance by phone or email for Produce Safety related questions. See the contact
Once growers have completed the PSA Training and received their Training Certificate,
they can sign-up to go through a voluntary educational review of their Farm Safety
Program with the Extension Produce Safety Team. This review, called On-Farm Readiness
Review (OFRR) will reiterate the information taught in the Grower Training and offer
an educational approach to the key risk areas identified.
Register to be contacted about setting up an on-farm consultation visit or On-Farm Readiness Review (OFFR).
Once growers that are subject to the rule have completed the Produce Safety Training
and their OFRR (if requested), they are then ready for their inspection from the Arkansas
Department of Agriculture which will put them in full compliance with all parts of
the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.
The Preventive Controls Rule
The Preventive Controls rule is another component of the FSMA. It applies to processing
facilities of fresh fruits and vegetables. Specific rules and regulations designed
to prevent contamination of the nations food supply at the processor level is the
goal of these new regulations. More information is available on the FDA website and in the links below as to who must comply with these rules and what the new regulations
Dr. Amanda Philyaw Perez
Extension Specialist- Food Systems & Food Safety