As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ongoing effort to make the oversight of food safety stronger and more efficient, the FDA and the USDA today announced the alignment of the USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Audit Program (USDA H-GAP) with the requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA’s) Produce Safety Rule.
The new step is part of an ongoing effort to streamline produce safety requirements for farmers.
“Government should make things easier for our customers whenever possible and these important improvements help accomplish that goal,” said Secretary Perdue. “Specialty crop farmers who take advantage of a USDA Harmonized GAP audit now will have a much greater likelihood of passing a FSMA inspection as well. This means one stop at USDA helps producers meet federal regulatory requirements, deliver the safest food in the world and grow the market for American-grown food. This is an important first step. We look forward to continuing to work with FDA, other government agencies and especially our state partners to ensure proper training of auditors and inspectors, and to help producers understand changes in the audit.”
While the requirements of both programs are not identical, the relevant technical components in the FDA Produce Safety Rule are covered in the USDA H-GAP Audit Program. The aligned components include areas such as biological soil amendments; sprouts; domesticated and wild animals; worker training; health and hygiene; and equipment, tools and buildings. The alignment will help farmers by enabling them to assess their food safety practices as they prepare to comply with the Produce Safety Rule. However, the USDA audits are not a substitute for FDA or state regulatory inspections.
Announcement builds on a formal agreement signed earlier this year outlining plans to increase interagency coordination regarding produce safety, inspections of dual-jurisdiction facilities and biotechnology activities.
Farmers who are interested in learning more about this alignment and what they can do to prepare for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule can contact their regional representative of the Produce Safety Network or find more information at FDA.gov.
Tuesday June 5, 2018/ FDA-USDA/ United States.