PA 17-208—HB 6333

Environment Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING CERTAIN AUTHORITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RELATING TO THE FOOD SAFETY MODERNIZATION ACT

SUMMARY: This act allows the state Department of Agriculture (DoAg) to enforce the federal Food Safety Modernization Act's (FSMA) rules on produce safety (see BACKGROUND). These rules set standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce intended for human consumption. They generally apply to farms that sell an average of more than $25,000 worth of produce per year during the previous three years. Under the act and the federal rules, “produce” means any fruit or vegetable, including mushrooms, sprouts, peanuts, tree nuts, and herbs, but excludes grains (21 C.F.R. 112.3).

The act allows the DoAg commissioner to consult, collaborate, and enter into cooperative agreements with any government entity, as necessary, to carry out its provisions. It also allows the commissioner to inspect produce farms for compliance; issue inspection certificates; and issue orders, including orders to embargo, destroy, quarantine, or release produce.

The act also authorizes the DoAg commissioner, in consultation with the public health and consumer protection commissioners, to adopt any necessary implementing regulations.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017

AUTHORITY TO ENFORCE RULES AND ISSUE ORDERS

Under the act, DoAg may enforce FSMA's produce safety rules. DoAg may issue orders, including orders to embargo, destroy, quarantine, or release produce. Anyone aggrieved by a DoAg order may request a hearing in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act.

The act specifies that it does not limit or interfere with (1) the consumer protection commissioner's authority under state law concerning food safety or (2) DoAg's, or its commissioner's, authority under state law, including the authority to issue an emergency order in response to a public health hazard.

PRODUCE FARM INSPECTIONS AND RECORD KEEPING

Inspections

The act allows DoAg to inspect produce farms that are subject to FSMA at reasonable hours to ensure compliance with the federal produce safety rules and any related state regulations. It allows DoAg to coordinate with a federal or state agency or state organization, municipality, or political subdivision to perform the inspections.

After an inspection, DoAg may issue a certificate to the farm indicating the date and place of inspection and any other information the commissioner deems necessary.

The act also allows DoAg to inspect a produce farm that is not subject to FSMA at the request of the farm's owner or operator. Under the act, an inspection request authorizes the commissioner to (1) inspect the farm in accordance with FSMA and (2) issue an inspection certificate.

Record Keeping

The act requires the owner or operator of a produce farm who is subject to FSMA or who requests an inspection to maintain records as required under FSMA, the federal produce safety rules, and any related state regulations DoAg adopts. The owner or operator must make the records available to DoAg at the request of the commissioner or his agent.

BACKGROUND

FSMA

FSMA (P.L. 111-353) was signed into law on January 4, 2011. It is meant to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by focusing regulators on preventing, rather than responding to, contamination. The Food and Drug Administration has issued various FSMA rules, including those relating to:

1. preventive controls for human and animal food,

2. sanitary transportation of human and animal food,

3. produce safety,

4. accredited third-party certification,

5. foreign supplier verification programs for importers of human and animal food, and

6. strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration.