Food Safety
Modernization Act (FSMA)

Water treatment requirements for farms and processing plants
are changing. Accu-Tab® Chlorination can help you get prepared.

FSMA: What you need to know

Q: What is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)?

A: The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of the United States food safety laws in more than 70 years. Signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, it aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

Q: Why was the FSMA passed into law?

A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. This significant public health burden is largely preventable. The new law enables the FDA to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system and allowing it to focus more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting to problems after they occur.

Q: Does FSMA have guidelines for water used for irrigation and washing?

A: Yes, the FDA has issued new rules for what it defines as “agricultural water.” The law defines agricultural water as water used in covered activities on covered produce where it is intended to, or is likely to, contact covered produce or food-contact surfaces, including water used:

  • in growing including irrigation water directly applied
  • for preparing crop sprays
  • for growing sprouts
  • harvesting, packing, and holding
  • for washing or cooling harvested produce
  • to prevent dehydration
Q: What is covered produce?

A: The proposed produce rule covers most fruits and vegetables while they are in their raw or natural (unprocessed) state. It would not apply to raw agricultural commodities that are rarely consumed raw, those produced for personal or on-farm consumption, and (with certain documentation) those destined for commercial processing, such as canning, that will adequately reduce microorganisms of public health concern.

Q: How does FSMA impact agricultural water?

A: According to the FDA, agricultural water has been identified as one probable route of produce contamination with pathogens that can cause human illness. How and when water is applied on the farm is dependent on the type of produce being grown.

Q: What are the proposed requirements for Agricultural Water?

A: All of the details on Agricultural Water are in a section of the law titled “Agricultural Water: Subpart E. However, the proposed requirements are:

  • Require that all agricultural water must be of safe and sanitary quality for its intended use (proposed § 112.41).
  • Require inspection, maintenance, monitoring, and follow-up actions related to the agricultural water sources and water distribution systems under your control and water used for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of covered produce; including requiring inspection of the entire agricultural water system under your control at the beginning of each growing season and maintenance of the system to prevent it from becoming a source of contamination to covered produce.
Q: When do the FSMA guidelines for Agricultural Water take effect?

A: It will take several years for the rules to take effect. However, all rules have been published in the Federal Register, where the public will have 120 days to comment. Then FDA will make adjustments to the rules based on the comment. Finally, perhaps within a year, they will be made final and go into effect.  However, the FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small and very small farms would have additional time to comply. All farms would have additional time to comply with some of the water quality requirements.

Q: Why should I act on FSMA now?

A: If your operation includes agricultural water for irrigation purposes or food processing and washing then you should be preparing or perhaps upgrading your facility to ensure your water is adequately treated. Even though the law may not take effect immediately, safely and effectively treating your agricultural water should be a priority to help kill bacteria that can lead to outbreaks.

The Accu-Tab Chlorination System
for Agricultural Water

The Accu-Tab® tablet chlorination system is a simple and effective water chlorination solution for the irrigation and fresh cut markets. It is available for gravity feed systems, suction-side pressure systems and injection pressure systems. Killing bacteria that lives and breeds in agricultural water is simple and effective with the Accu-Tab® tablet chlorination system. The system offers a certified and well-engineered approach to water chlorination for applications such as fruit and vegetable processing and irrigation. What’s more it’s easy to install and is supported by a dedicated specialist network.

Fresh cut and produce processing plant managers can better set their targets on bacteria that live and breed in their wash water with the safer, simpler and more effective Accu-Tab® tablet chlorination system. Cross contamination and deadly bacteria have been the cause for many outbreaks that have brought more government and public scrutiny to food safety. This system’s proven technology is an effective way to kill many of the bacteria linked to cross contamination in their process wash water, while providing peace of mind to their customers.

For produce farms and nurseries, The Accu-Tab® tablet chlorination system offers a safe, versatile, and low maintenance solution for improved operational performance of irrigation systems. Effectively chlorinating source water used for irrigation purposes, the Accu-Tab system controls water molds and kills bacteria. It also reduces maintenance time by controlling algae and iron build-up that can cause drip line clogs in irrigation systems, ultimately giving you more time to work the land.

FSMA In the News

Additional Information

Food Safety BulletinLearn more Accu-Tab® Best Practices for Post-Harvest Packing and Processing

Skinner NurseriesLearn how Skinner Nurseries utilized Accu-Tab to protect its source water chlorinating more than 1,300 acres.

D & M ProduceLearn how D & M utilized Accu-Tab to protect its source water.

Other Resources

»FDA
The official update on all things related to the FSMA can be found here.

»Produce Marketing Association
The PMA has pulled together excellent content on this topic for growers and processors on their website.

»FoodSafety.gov
The gateway to food safety information provided by government agencies. This article provides good background.

»Center for Produce Safety
This is a collaborative partnership that leverages the expertise of industry, government and the scientific and academic communities to focus on providing research needed to continually enhance food safety. Learn more on their website.

Contact Accu-Tab

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