The entire produce community — including the California avocado industry — is undergoing a vital transformation, as various food-borne illness outbreaks have forced consumers and the federal government to put into place greater regulations and standards regarding the safety of fresh produce. On January 26th, 2016, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) became law. Under FSMA growers and harvesters will have to demonstrate that their policies, procedures and workers all comply with the law. Most growers will have two (or more) years to demonstrate compliance as determined by the size of their business.
Most of the FSMA requirements reflect the 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 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. Greater detail about these changes can be found in the CALIFORNIA AVOCADO GROWER’S GUIDE TO NEW FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS.
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. The Commission has a vareity of additional GAP and GHP resources available, including:
- An online GAP FOOD SAFETY COURSE that introduces growers to food safety practices and assists growers in assessing their own food safety practices
- A synopsis of the new regulations — A CALIFORNIA AVOCADO GROWER’S GUIDE TO NEW FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS
- A detailed FSMA EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS PRESENTATION (pps version) FSMA EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS PRESENTATION (pdf version)
For further information about the CAC GAP program, or how to become GAP certified, please contact the Commission at 949-341-1955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.