What water sampling will FSMA require me to do next year?
The current regulatory language of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requires growers to follow a specific process of taking a series of water samples on each water source to establish a Microbial Water Quality Profile (MWQP) that is updated with new samples each year.
However, the Food and Drug Administration announced in March 2017 that the agency is reconsidering the entire water quality section of the rule, including sampling standards and methodologies, due to concerns raised by the industry regarding its complexity and difficulty to implement on the farm.
Industry associations like the Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) and Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) will be weighing in with FDA as this process moves forward.
In the interim, growers should consider holding off on making new investments in meeting the specific water requirements of the Produce Safety Rule until this process is complete.
However, it is expected that water sampling in some form will still be required, so training on good water sampling techniques including training courses offered by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association (WSTFA) continues to be valuable.
Please remember that the nonwater provisions of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) are expected to remain the same.