Hundreds Attend CAC's FSMA Education Seminars — Presentation Slides Now Available Online
On March 1, 2 and 3 the California Avocado Commission conducted educational seminars in Fallbrook, Ventura and San Luis Obispo to inform the California avocado industry about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Nearly 300 growers and handler representatives attended the seminars.
Ken Melban, vice president of Industry Affairs for the Commission, directed the discussion at the seminars. He explained that the purpose of FSMA is to minimize the risk of adverse health consequences and death related to consumption of fresh produce. Under FSMA growers and harvesters will have to demonstrate that their policies, procedures and workers all comply with the law. The detailed FSMA presentation is available here: FSMA EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS PRESENTATION and in the right-hand sidebar.
FSMA became effective on January 26, 2016, and while most California avocado growers will have two or more years to demonstrate compliance with the law, Melban noted the practical reality is that major avocado buyers will require even more stringent compliance than that required for FSMA in the near future. Pursuing or maintaining Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification is one of the key steps California avocado growers can do to ensure they will have a market for their fruit in coming years.
Melban observed that most of the requirements in FSMA reflect the good practices California avocado growers already have in place, but additional documentation of those practices will be required. One key difference between the FSMA Produce Safety Rule (Rule) and CAC’s current GAP program is in the Agricultural Water section, specifically increased testing frequency. Another difference is that the Rule disallows the harvesting of windfall fruit. These changes are thoroughly explained in a guide developed by the Commission, which is available by clicking here:
A CALIFORNIA AVOCADO GROWER’S GUIDE TO NEW FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS.
In the near future CAC will update the Commission’s GAP manual to address the agricultural water requirements of the new Rule and continues to provide tools and training necessary for growers to become GAP certified. Melban also encouraged growers to take advantage of the services offered by handlers to help them prepare for audits and certification.