Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations

Produce Safety Inspections

The first major compliance date for large farms subject to the Produce Safety Rule, other than sprout operations, arrived on January 26, 2018 (Large farms sell an average of more than $500,000 a year in produce). However, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., conveyed in a previous announcement that routine inspections associated with the rule would not begin until Spring 2019.  This action was intended to allow FDA and its state partners to provide additional opportunities for education and outreach, such as through the On-Farm Readiness Reviewdisclaimer icon program. 

FDA plans to begin routine inspections of large farms other than sprouts operations subject to the Produce Safety rule, including large produce farms in other countries, in Spring 2019. States receiving Competition A/B funding as part of the State Produce Implementation Cooperative Agreement Program should also use spring 2019 as their starting dates for inspections of large produce farms.

FDA intends to begin routine Foreign Supplier Verification Programs inspections of importers of produce from large farms in other countries in Fall 2019.

Routine inspections of small farms, other than sprouts operations, subject to the Produce Safety Rule, for which the compliance date arrived on January 28, 2019, will begin in Spring 2020. (Small farms, on a rolling basis, have sold an average of more than $250,000 but not more than $500,000 a year in produce over the past three years.)

We appreciate the close collaboration with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and our state partners as we approach this important milestone in our produce regulatory program.

In FDA Voices, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda Plaisier, MSW, and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas, MPH, explain what FDA has been doing to support stakeholders’ work to comply with this rule. Below are a variety of resources to help prepare farmers and regulators for the start of inspections.

The link below provides information about the Final Rule on the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce including related guidance, fact sheets, correspondence, news releases and more.

The draft Produce Safety Rule guidance, published in October 2018, provides a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule. It also provides recommendations on how to determine eligibility for a qualified exemption and modified requirements of the rule and recommendations on how to determine whether a farm is covered by the rule.

The FDA and National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and our state partners have collaborated to develop two new documents to be used in support of produce inspections.

Form 4056 (Produce Farm Inspection Observations)

The first document is the Form FDA 4056, “Produce Farm Inspection Observations.” This form represents a new way of providing feedback to farms and documenting observations that is different from FDA's traditional process of reporting observations made during an inspection, which has historically been through the FDA 483 Inspectional Observations Form. The new form (FDA 4056) is designed around the specific provisions in the Produce Safety Rule and was developed to help farmers better understand what is being examined in an inspection. FDA will issue the new 4056 form at the end of every farm inspection, whether or not any non-compliance issues were identified, to help farmers understand what is being examined in an inspection and how any observation relates to the regulation. FDA is working with states to promote consistency among inspections through use of the new form.

Dispute Mitigation and Resolution

For the produce inspections being conducted by FDA, the agency has developed a Dispute Mitigation and Resolution procedure, which is formalized as Field Management Directive 152. This provides a process for resolving differences between FDA and state regulatory authorities during inspections.


Page Last Updated: 02/07/2019
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