Training will be essential in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act - and the FDA just released their approach to tackling the issue. While members of the food industry are ultimately responsible for getting the training they need to comply with the FSMA rules, the FDA recognizes the importance of its role in facilitating that training. As stated by the agnecy, this means joining with public and private partners in state, federal, tribal and international governments, industry, and academia in the development and delivery of training.
The Produce Safety Rule (as proposed) and the Preventive Controls rules all have training components, although they are not the same for each rule. There will be ample time for farmers and food producers to come into compliance. Compliance dates for the rules (including the Produce Safety rule as proposed) are staggered according to the size of the business.
And as the FDA points out, one size doesn’t fit all. The most important goal that the federal agnecy expects of any training program is the outcome—that it advances knowledge among the food industry to meet FSMA requirements. There is more than one way to get there and there will be a variety of options and delivery formats as they have outlined:
The vision of FSMA training began in 2010-2012 with the creation of public-private Alliances funded primarily by the FDA as a resource for industry and to facilitate widespread understanding of the new standards to support compliance. Training through the Alliances will be available shortly after the rules have been finalized.
Recognizing the great diversity among members of the food industry, the FDA is building on that investment by funding cooperative agreements that will develop training options for local food production systems and tribal operations.
The FDA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to provide grants to fund a National Coordination Center (NCC) and four Regional Centers (RCs) to provide training opportunities for owners and operators of farms, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.