Last week, FDA announced that growers under the Produce Safety Rule (Subpart E), other than those who produce sprouts, would have more time to comply with water-quality standards. FDA has proposed to extend the compliance dates to address questions about the practical implementation of compliance with certain provisions and to consider how they might further reduce the regulatory burden or increase flexibility while continuing to achieve regulatory objectives. FDA is accepting public comments for 60 days and the comment period will close on November 13, 2017. The federal register notice can be accessed here.
FDA also has determined that the following water testing methods are “scientifically valid” and “at least equivalent to the method of analysis in § 112.151(a) in accuracy, precision, and sensitivity under the Produce Safety Rule. FDA provides several methods they have determined are “equivalent.” Meanwhile, the Agency has also announced their intent to exercise enforcement discretion for covered produce, other than sprouts, for requirements in subpart E relative to the agricultural water provisions and farms can continue with their current testing programs in the interim.
Lastly, in comments made by FDA commissioner Dr. Gottlieb, at this week’s NASDA meeting in New Orleans, LA, FDA expressed the remaining compliance dates will stand as is, and enforcement for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule will not commence until 2019. Read more from FDA on the NASDA meeting.