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NCDA&CS Produce Safety Program

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Are you growing, harvesting, packing, and/or holding fresh produce to sell? The Produce Safety Program provides support to North Carolina fresh produce farmers through education and outreach to build knowledge of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) through collaborations, including NC State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Research Stations. It is also tasked with conducting produce safety inspections to determine compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.

Webinar Highlights

FSMA Produce Safety Rule (PSR)

  • Signed into law January 4, 2011
  • Established science based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption.
  • Developed a ‘farm to fork’ approach to food safety with a focus on preventing the spread of foodborne illness causing pathogens in fresh fruits & vegetables

How do we define a Farm?

Farm Classifications

Common Questions about Covered Commodities (video 19:30-26:30 minutes)

  1. Cultivated vs. wild mushrooms
    1. The PSR does not differentiate between cultivated and wild foraged mushrooms, foragers are farms!
    2. Must package produce in a manner that prevents known or reasonably foreseeable hazards. For mushrooms, Clostridium botulinum. Avoid packaging in reduced oxygen/vacuum packaging
    3. Additional requirements from NC Department of Health if wild foraged mushrooms are being sold to retail food establishments.
  2. Drying or dehydrating raw agricultural commodities
    1. Advisable to have your dehydration process evaluated to ensure your final product has a water activity of less than 0.85 aw
    2. Dehydrating Activity NCDA&CS Program to Contact
      Whole dried/dehydrated raw agricultural commodities NCDA&CS Produce Safety Program
      Sliced or diced dried/dehydrated raw agricultural commodities NCDA&CS Food Program
      Freeze drying raw agricultural commodities NCDA&CS Food Program
    3. More information on water activity from Clemson University Extension partners
  3. Microgreens vs. sprouts
    1. Microgreens are immature plants, comprised of a stem and cotyledons
      1. Microgreens are cut from the root system
    2. Sprouts are germinated in water and are harvested before the cotyledons are developed
      1. 21CFR112 – Subpart M outlines requirements for Sprouts
  4. Edible flowers

A. Considered a covered commodity under the PSR

Produce Safety Program Inspections

“Educate before and while we regulate”

  • Farm Verification
    • Verifies if your farm is covered or not-covered under the Produce Safety Rule
  • Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses
    • One-day course for farm food safety
    • Prepares farms for understanding requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, prior to requesting an On-Farm Readiness Review
  • On-Farm Readiness Review
    • Free, voluntary, educational, non-regulatory, and confidential review of a farm’s readiness for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule
    • Helps identify areas of opportunity and improvement for food safety practices across the farm
    • Conducted in tandem by NCDA&CS Produce Safety Program and NC State Extension Agents.
  • Produce Safety Inspection
    1. Inspection scheduling

    2. Pre-inspectional call

    3. Inspection day

      1. The farm will receive a Notice of Inspection from the Produce Regulatory Specialist

      2. Produce Regulatory Specialist will conduct an interview with farm’s owner or management team

      3. Walk through of farm

      4. Produce Regulatory Specialist will conduct an exit interview with farm’s owner or management team

Produce Safety Program Contacts

Chris Harris

(919) 270-0990

Sarah Cope

(919) 219-4716

Produce Program Compliance Office

(984) 236- 4820

Webinar hosted on March 15, 2024.

NIFA logo“This work was supported by the intramural research program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Food Safety Outreach Program 1030908. The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the US Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.”