The NASDA Foundation FSMA Produce Safety Team hosted the seventh annual National Produce Safety Consortium on Nov. 7-9, 2023 in St. Louis, Missouri. This year’s Consortium theme was “Accomplishing More Together,” which emphasizes the importance of education initiatives, collaboration across institutions and forward-thinking governance.
Over 250 representatives from 47 State Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and University Extension attended the event, which is organized to support collaboration among key stakeholders and support uniformity of regulatory standards across industries, states and institutions.
“The annual consortium provides an opportunity for the NASDA Foundation to use its platform as a convener and collaborator to support consistency across states with their implementation of regulatory programs,” NASDA Senior Director of Food Safety Programs Joe Reardon said. “This year’s presentations and breakout sessions covered everything from disaster response to controlled environment agriculture, emphasizing the many complexities that states are looking to address as they build out their inspection programs.”
Jim Jones, the recently appointed FDA Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, served as this year’s Keynote speaker. In speaking on the importance of strong partnerships between FDA and the states, Jim complimented the state’s interactions with FDA on their produce safety programs. He also noted the value that the new FDA’s restructuring plan will have in supporting stronger food safety programs at both the state and federal levels.
The NASDA Foundation entered into a cooperative agreement with the FDA in 2014 to support the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule, which establishes regulatory standards for the for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh produce for human consumption.
Along with hosting an annual produce safety consortium as part of the cooperative agreement, the NASDA Foundation has also created an On-Farm Readiness Review program to support farmers’ preparations for inspections and built a produce safety implementation framework to provide states with clarity on implementation of statewide produce safety programs.