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Food Safety Rules: A Chance to Demonstrate Our Commitment

The two new proposed food safety rules (Preventive Controls and Produce Safety) under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will change the way many in agriculture operate. It also brings FDA onto the farm.

While the focus is on fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, including almonds, are included in the proposed Produce Rule. This is because tree nuts are often consumed raw, presenting a potential food safety risk. The Rule outlines possible routes of contamination, such as water, equipment and manure, etc., and will mandate more grower documentation/record keeping.

The California Almond industry, however, is well positioned to adapt to the new food safety challenges. The industry has many years of food safety research and risk-based programs under its belt, including processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms, which is mandated under our market order rules.

Written comments in response to the rules must be submitted to FDA by May 16, 2013; over the next three months, ABC staff will be working with other ag groups to review key provisions and determine how industry practices align. The objective is to ensure that FDA takes existing almond production practices into consideration — potentially providing the basis for exempting almonds, once the final rules are published.

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