Even before it was passed in January 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act, or “FIZZ-MA,” was a buzz phrases in the produce industry.

The FSMA mandates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to draft and propose regulatory rules affecting most every aspect of the food industry.

The United States food regulatory laws were first established with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is the most sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws in more than 70 years. It gives the FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues and improve the safety of imported foods. In other words, it aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

Since January 2011, FDA has been drafting proposed rules in order to observe the FSMA mandates passed down by Congress. Five rules have been released for public comment and Nov. 15 is the final deadline for all comments to be submitted for two main rules affecting the produce industry, the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventative Controls Rule.

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association will issue written comments for the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventative Controls Rule as well as the Foreign Supplier Verification Rule, the Accredited 3rd Party Auditors Rule, and the Animal Feed Rule.

GFVGA with national produce industry organizations such as United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association work with FDA to make the united voices of fruit and vegetable growers, packers and shippers heard.

“While this process sounds like it has taken a long time, it is almost going too fast,” said Beth Oleson, GFVGA’s director of food safety, emphasizing the proposed regulations are not yet law.

“Farmers and organizations must let FDA know what is correct and good in these regulations as well as where they missed the mark and how we want them to fix it,” she said.

Once FDA releases the final regulations they will deeply impact the produce and food industry.   According to Oleson, the time is now to speak up. “If we don’t take the time and effort to get them right, it will be nearly impossible to change them later,” she said.