USA – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a new draft guidance that aims to facilitate training options for industry to help ensure the safety of produce.

The new guidance will help farmers and educators utilize alternate curricula for produce safety training, targeting to ensure diverse farming operations in fruits and vegetable production.

It also looks to meet certain training requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, which establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce grown for human consumption.

The standardized curriculum covers fundamental food safety topics related to produce and the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.

This includes an introduction to produce safety, worker health and hygiene, training, wildlife and domesticated animals, land use, produce handling, and sanitation.

“FDA recognizes that traditional training activities may not work for all groups, and there are certain instances in which alternate curricula and training delivery may be appropriate,” said FDA.

“The draft guidance issued today is designed to help farmers and educators understand FDA’s current thinking on factors that should be considered when either selecting or developing an alternate training curriculum that is not the standardized curriculum developed by the PSA.”

The Produce Safety Rule requires that at least one supervisor or responsible party successfully complete food safety training that is at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by FDA.

Covered farms are not required to use the standardized curriculum and may use alternate curricula that is at least equivalent.

However, the rule requires covered farms to take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death from the use of, or exposure to, covered produce.

These include measures reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable hazards into covered produce, and to provide reasonable assurances that the produce is not adulterated.