By: Margaret Todd
ALEI legal specialists partnered with Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Food Quality Assurance Program to update the University of Maryland Extension Food Safety webpage. The joint effort, spearheaded by ALEI Research Assistant Margaret Todd, focused on addressing the need to make vital information regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations more readily available for Maryland producers.
According to Deanna Baldwin, manager of the MDA Food Quality Assurance Program, “Food safety regulations and buyer requirements have become more complex during recent years placing an increased burden on farmers and small businesses to understand and implement food safety practices. Previously, farms and businesses have spent hours searching websites to find the information they need. Margaret Todd’s reorganization of the Extension food safety website has created an effective one-stop tool for quickly locating accurate resources to assist with compliance.”
The updated content went live in January 2020 and can be accessed under the “On The Farm (FSMA & GAPs)” tab on the University of Maryland Extension Food Safety webpage. The page now includes more detailed information on the FSMA regulations, specifically the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) requirements, Preventive Controls Rules (PCR) requirements, and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) programs.
The Produce Safety Rule page features links to training videos and other resources to help growers access a variety of educational materials. Another resource added to the PSR page is a comparison table that includes side-by-side explanations of the similarities and differences between the requirements for PSR compliance and Maryland’s GAP program.
The Preventive Controls Rules page includes an overview of the rules for both Human Foods and Animal Foods. In addition to the key provisions, the page features explanations on PCR applicability, exemptions, and links to resources for producers who need to register their facilities
Other content added to the UME page is a Food Safety Contacts page. The Contacts page provides growers names and contact information for experts from several agencies and organizations who can help producers that have more questions about the laws, how to comply with the laws, how to attend an approved FSMA training, accessing resources and programs that will make compliance simpler, and more.