New Food Safety Regulations: Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

What is FSMA?  

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, is the first significant overhaul of food safety regulations since the 1930s. The intent of the law, which will be implemented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is to prevent food borne illness.

FDA is currently in "rulemaking," writing the rules it will use to implement the law. In November 2013, FDA closed an almost year-long public comment period on two key rules  -- the produce rule and the preventive controls rule -- that will apply to farms and food facilities (manufacturing/processing, packing, and holding). 

To learn about FSMA and the draft rules, read our short guide, in the "More About the Draft Rules" box (right side of this page).

Still Waiting for Round 2: Fall 2014?

Tens of thousands of farmers and others expressed many concerns about those two proposed rules during the first comment period. FDA expected to published revised rule language for specific parts of the Produce Safety and Preventive Controls for Human Food rules in Summer 2014, followed by a public comment period.

As of September 2014, the rules were still being held by the federal Office of Management and Budget, with no release date set.  

FDA says the revised rules will offer alternatives for provisions that raised the most concern: water quality standards and testing, standards for the use of raw manure and compost, animal grazing and animal intrusion, certain requirements related to “mixed-use” facilities, and procedures for the withdrawal of qualified exemptions. 

FDA offered a sneak peak at the new alternatives in this Federal Register Notice. (Scroll down to “Tables,” under “Table of Contents,” and click on “Table 1.”)

How We Commented on the Proposed Rules: Round 1

The OSU Small Farms Program submitted comments on both rules. We developed our comments in consultation with small farms and food businesses and other local food system stakeholders around Oregon. 

How Others Commented

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provided important leadership to assure that the provisions in FSMA that protect sustainable and organic agriculture as well as local food systems were upheld. Read their comments here

The Oregon Department of Agriculture also commented, including several issues important to Oregon's thriving small farms and local food systems. Read their comments here

Steve Gilman, Northeast Organic Farming Association, provides valuable political background and analysis of FSMA in this May 2013 article (click on "read more").

Stay Tuned

The OSU Small Farms Program will provide information and analysis regarding the revised rules, so check back here in June and watch our Facebook page.