I talked yesterday to Robert Sakata Jr., president of Brighton, Colo.-based Sakata Farms, about changes to his farming operation.
He mentioned he was at the Feb. 27-28 Produce Safety Alliance Water Summit in Covington, Ky.
Sakata said he was impressed with the scope of growers, large and small, represented at the first day of the meeting. Discussions the first day looked at the hazards in water and what solutions are available. Federal regulators seemed responsive to growers, he said.
If you want updates from the water summit, check out the Produce Safety Alliance website here. The event also has room for up to 1,000 participants in a free web seminar associated with the event.
Check out the powerpoint from opening talk by Dr. Betsy Bihn and Ms. Gretchen Wall, Coordinator, Produce Safety Alliance
Here is another talk, “FSMA Produce Safety Rule (PSR) Standards for Agricultural Water: Overview of Requirements and Status of the Regulation” by Dr. Samir Assar, Ms. Chelsea Davidson, Ms. Kruti Ravaliya FDA, Division of Produce Safety.
TK: Check out a couple of reader comments about agricultural water testing in The Packer’s recent coverage of the issue of compliance dates.
Victor Tognazzini writes:
I am certainly not attacking the messenger, Trevor Suslow, but it is ludicrous to allow four years for larger businesses to start microbial indicator testing for agricultural water. LGMA members were being audited on metrics that included the results of water testing 3 to 4 months after sign-up. Setting up water testing involves contacting a lab, identifying water sources and initiating testing. Why would a business wait four years to have critical information to food safety? Why would any business, regardless of size be exempt from testing requirements? Pathogens do not discriminate by the size of a business!
Trevor Suslow responded:
Typically, I don’t read or engage in comment exchanges where I may be incidentally mentioned or included in an article. However, I initiated this and Tom Karst was generous enough to include the note for his readership so I do feel an obligation to participate. I am passionately in agreement with you, Victor, and it is hard to sell the urgency of concern around the specific risk profile of preharvest water across all scales of production during grower training’s if the dates for compliance are pushed out for several years. Regardless, many of us are currently attending the FSMA Water Quality Summit in KY and, as FDA has been acutely aware, few regions have access to labs prepared to offer these services in a location which would allow sample submission in the current required time frame, let alone have a clear and practical resolution to a myriad of compliance definitions and implementation uncertainties. For larger growers with over a decade long experience and deep archive of comparable water testing this is a relatively trivial adjustment. For many others, the proposed extended compliance dates which allow for more data gathering and reassessment by FDA is a sensible measure to promote broader compliance and more meaningful food safety objectives in the future.