Outreach and Education for Hawai‘i Fruit and Vegetable Growers
Produce safety is of growing concern to fruit and vegetable operations, the regulatory community, and consumers as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety Rule. FSMA is a federal law that grants the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) new regulatory authority over several types of farming and food production. To learn more about FSMA, click on our FSMA page.
While some Hawaii produce and added-value operations will not likely be subject to FSMA regulations due to their small size, wholesale buyers will increasingly demand documented food safety practices from their suppliers, just as retail customers look to become more aware of how their food is produced.
Therefor, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is working with the FDA to provide outreach and education to Hawaii fruit and vegetable growers who will be impacted by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and have just been awarded a cooperative agreement with the FDA to build the program to promote understanding of the Produce Safety Rule.
The Produce Safety Rule
The Rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. Some key requirements of the Rule are in: agricultural water; biological soil amendments; domesticated and wild animals; worker training and health & hygiene; equipment, tools and buildings; and record keeping. For a quick reference to the Produce Safety Rule, see FSMA PSR Key Requirements.
Just beginning to learn about the Produce Safety Rule? Here are some good starting points:
- Learn where your farm falls under the Rule – check out the Coverage and Exemptions/Exclusions flowchart from the FDA. Farms may fall under one of three categories (covered, qualified exempt, or excluded), with different requirements for each category. Where your farm falls depends on what you sell, who you sell to, and how much you sell.
- Watch the Produce Safety Rule Exemptions Webinar from the Produce Safety Alliance.
- Take a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training class.
Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings
Under the Produce Safety Rule, every produce farm must have an individual employed who has completed an FDA-approved Produce Safety Rule Grower Training course. This course provides training to ensure a responsible party employed by the farm understands the required food safety practices.
The Produce Safety Rule Grower Training need only be taken once; however, the certificate of completion belongs to the individual and not the farm.
HDOA’s Produce Safety Program has partnered with the University of Hawaii at Manoa Cooperative Extension Farm Food Safety Outreach program to deliver the training. To be notified when new training become available please contact Hawaii Produce Safety Program Manager, Luisa F. Castro at Luisa.F.Castro@hawaii.gov or at (808) 974-4130.
Additional dates will be posted here when they are set. Past training workshops have been presented in the following locations:
Audits for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
The HDOA’s Commodities Branch conducts USDA audits for fresh fruit and vegetable producers. As an independent third party, the HDOA inspectors act on behalf of the USDA to perform the audit. The types of audits provided by HDOA are listed below. For more information about audits, click on the Audit Services Program tab.
- Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP)
- Tomato Food Safety Audit Protocol
- Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard Audit (coming soon)
If you are a producer or operator with questions or concerns about FSMA or produce safety, we want to hear from you! Contact Hawaii Department of Agriculture Produce Safety Program Manager, Luisa F. Castro at Luisa.F.Castro@hawaii.gov or at (808) 974-4130.