Being United Makes All The Difference

Welcome to United Fresh 

Sign-up for our newsletter

Agricultural Water

The quality and use of agricultural water is a top concern for members of the produce industry. This page provides resources regarding risk assessment, testing, and much more. Related United Fresh resources can be found on our Harmonized Standard webpage.

FDA Proposed Agricultural Water Rule

In 2019, FDA announced the finalization of compliance date extensions for the agricultural water portion of the Produce Safety Rule in order to allow time for FDA to reconsider and rewrite the rule. In anticipation of publication of the proposed agricultural water rule, a subset of the United Fresh Food Safety Council developed a list of common questions often asked in relation to the industry’s use, monitoring, and management of agricultural water. Download the resource below for detailed answers and associated references to these frequently asked questions.

Harmonized Ag Water Risk Assessment

United Fresh’s Food Safety Council and Harmonized Calibration Committee agreed that the industry would benefit from a document that a grower can use to guide their thought process through the assessment of their agricultural water risk. The following document is a compilation of existing resources and approaches developed by the volunteer workgroup.

FDA Ag Water Resources

Equivalent Testing Methodologies for Agricultural Water

FDA announced their intent to re-examine subpart E to contemplate opportunities to simplify the rule. In the meantime, FDA has extended the compliance date for the ag water testing requirement by 2 years (this subpart of the rule already had extra time for compliance; this would be further extended by 2 years). FDA has also published additional test methods that can be used to assess generic E. coli in agricultural water. That FDA resource can be found here.

FDA has determined that the following methods are “scientifically valid” and “at least equivalent to the method of analysis in § 112.151(a) in accuracy, precision, and sensitivity. For more information and to see the equivalent methods, visit the FDA site.

Read an article on Agricultural Water written by Jennifer McEntire, Ph.D. United Fresh, and Jim Gorny, Ph.D., formerly PMA, in Food Safety Magazine’s August/September 2017 edition: Fixing FSMA’s Ag Water Requirements.

PSA Supplemental Slides for Agricultural Water

This PowerPoint includes a few slides that review the latest FDA announcements regarding the provisions in Subpart E that relate to agricultural water. Download the PowerPoint here.

UVM Water Testing Labs

The University of Vermont created a map of US Water Testing Laboratories. That map can be found on the UVM website here.

Ag Water Webinar Recording Available

FSMA-related Agricultural Water Testing Requirements in the Produce Safety Rule have been a top concern for the fresh produce industry.

Now that FDA has made several announcements related to the Ag water testing provision, including delaying implementation of that part of the rule and identifying several test methods that are “scientifically valid” and “at least equivalent to the method of analysis in § 112.151 a, please join Dr. Jennifer McEntire, United Fresh Senior VP of Food Safety and Technology for an insiders perspective. She’ll discuss FDA’s ag water extension timeline, the new and equivalent test methods and what this means for your operation. View a recording of the webinar here.

The Western Center for Food Safety contains links to tools (excel spreadsheets, app, online calculator for untreated surface water and untreated ground water) that can help you calculate the GM and STV and to determine if your water meets the criteria for appropriate application to produce before harvest.

Get the Tools

For any questions on these resources or to report broken links, contact Katie McGowan, Manager, Food Safety Programs, via email at or by phone at (202) 303-3402.