Today the FDA launched a new online tool to help farmers understand the requirements of the proposed rule, “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption Relating to Agricultural Water”. If finalized, the rule would replace the microbial criteria and testing requirements for pre-harvest agricultural water for covered produce other than sprouts.
Under the proposed rule, farms would be required to conduct yearly systems-based agricultural water assessments to assess and guide measures that would reduce risks related to pre-harvest agricultural water. According to the FDA, the assessment would consist of evaluating the water system, agricultural water use practices, crop characteristics, environmental conditions, potential impacts on source water by activities conducted on adjacent and nearby land.
The Agricultural Water Assessment Builder v. 1.0 is an optional tool that asks users to answer questions and complete information specific to their farms. According to the FDA, this information is not shared with the agency, nor is it saved; users can save or print the information to their own computers.
The tool is a component of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, and the agency is collecting feedback on the tool’s usability and functionality.