March 15, 2019
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a rule to finalize the new compliance dates for the agricultural water requirements in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.
Larger farms are now required to comply with the agricultural water requirements by January 26, 2022, while small farms have until January 26, 2023 and very small farms until January 26, 2024. This rule does not change the compliance dates for sprout operations.
These compliance dates have been extended while the FDA considers how best to protect public health while addressing widespread concerns about the complexity of the agricultural water requirements and the practicality of implementing them across a wide variety of farms, water sources and uses. The FDA intends to use this time to work with stakeholders to address these concerns.
While this rule extends the compliance dates for the agricultural water provisions, produce remains subject to the other provisions of the Produce Safety Rule and the adulteration provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
Recent outbreaks potentially linked to agricultural water have highlighted just how diverse agricultural production is, and have stressed the importance of ensuring that these standards are workable across the diversity of farms, water sources and uses. FDA remains firmly committed to incorporating lessons learned from these recent outbreaks, and to using the best science available to help minimize the risk that produce can become contaminated.
As we continue to work with stakeholders on issues raised regarding the agricultural water requirements, FDA strongly encourages farms to ensure that water is suitable for its intended use and to continue using good agricultural practices to maintain and protect the quality of their water sources. Farms are responsible for ensuring that the food they produce is not adulterated under the FD&C Act.