U.S Code last checked for updates: Apr 24, 2024
§ 350h.
Standards for produce safety
(a)
Proposed rulemaking
(1)
In general
(A)
Rulemaking

Not later than 1 year after January 4, 2011, the Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture (including with regard to the national organic program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 [7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.]), and in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables, including specific mixes or categories of fruits and vegetables, that are raw agricultural commodities for which the Secretary has determined that such standards minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death.

(B)
Determination by Secretary

With respect to small businesses and very small businesses (as such terms are defined in the regulation promulgated under subparagraph (A)) that produce and harvest those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities that the Secretary has determined are low risk and do not present a risk of serious adverse health consequences or death, the Secretary may determine not to include production and harvesting of such fruits and vegetables in such rulemaking, or may modify the applicable requirements of regulations promulgated pursuant to this section.

(2)
Public input

During the comment period on the notice of proposed rulemaking under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall conduct not less than 3 public meetings in diverse geographical areas of the United States to provide persons in different regions an opportunity to comment.

(3)
Content
The proposed rulemaking under paragraph (1) shall—
(A)
provide sufficient flexibility to be applicable to various types of entities engaged in the production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities, including small businesses and entities that sell directly to consumers, and be appropriate to the scale and diversity of the production and harvesting of such commodities;
(B)
include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, packing, and storage operations, science-based minimum standards related to soil amendments, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animals in the growing area, and water;
(C)
consider hazards that occur naturally, may be unintentionally introduced, or may be intentionally introduced, including by acts of terrorism;
(D)
take into consideration, consistent with ensuring enforceable public health protection, conservation and environmental practice standards and policies established by Federal natural resource conservation, wildlife conservation, and environmental agencies;
(E)
in the case of production that is certified organic, not include any requirements that conflict with or duplicate the requirements of the national organic program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, while providing the same level of public health protection as the requirements under guidance documents, including guidance documents regarding action levels, and regulations under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act; and
(F)
define, for purposes of this section, the terms “small business” and “very small business”.
(4)
Prioritization

The Secretary shall prioritize the implementation of the regulations under this section for specific fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities based on known risks which may include a history and severity of foodborne illness outbreaks.

(b)
Final regulation
(1)
In general

Not later than 1 year after the close of the comment period for the proposed rulemaking under subsection (a), the Secretary shall adopt a final regulation to provide for minimum science-based standards for those types of fruits and vegetables, including specific mixes or categories of fruits or vegetables, that are raw agricultural commodities, based on known safety risks, which may include a history of foodborne illness outbreaks.

(2)
Final regulation
The final regulation shall—
(A)
provide for coordination of education and enforcement activities by State and local officials, as designated by the Governors of the respective States or the appropriate elected State official as recognized by State statute; and
(B)
include a description of the variance process under subsection (c) and the types of permissible variances the Secretary may grant.
(3)
Flexibility for small businesses
Notwithstanding paragraph (1)—
(A)
the regulations promulgated under this section shall apply to a small business (as defined in the regulation promulgated under subsection (a)(1)) after the date that is 1 year after the effective date of the final regulation under paragraph (1); and
(B)
the regulations promulgated under this section shall apply to a very small business (as defined in the regulation promulgated under subsection (a)(1)) after the date that is 2 years after the effective date of the final regulation under paragraph (1).
(c)
Criteria
(1)
In general
The regulations adopted under subsection (b) shall—
(A)
set forth those procedures, processes, and practices that the Secretary determines to minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death, including procedures, processes, and practices that the Secretary determines to be reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable biological, chemical, and physical hazards, including hazards that occur naturally, may be unintentionally introduced, or may be intentionally introduced, including by acts of terrorism, into fruits and vegetables, including specific mixes or categories of fruits and vegetables, that are raw agricultural commodities and to provide reasonable assurances that the produce is not adulterated under section 342 of this title;
(B)
provide sufficient flexibility to be practicable for all sizes and types of businesses, including small businesses such as a small food processing facility co-located on a farm;
(C)
comply with chapter 35 of title 44 (commonly known as the “Paperwork Reduction Act”), with special attention to minimizing the burden (as defined in section 3502(2) of such title) on the business, and collection of information (as defined in section 3502(3) of such title), associated with such regulations;
(D)
acknowledge differences in risk and minimize, as appropriate, the number of separate standards that apply to separate foods; and
(E)
not require a business to hire a consultant or other third party to identify, implement, certify, compliance 1
1
 So in original. Probably should be “or certify compliance”.
with these procedures, processes, and practices, except in the case of negotiated enforcement resolutions that may require such a consultant or third party; and
(F)
permit States and foreign countries from which food is imported into the United States to request from the Secretary variances from the requirements of the regulations, subject to paragraph (2), where the State or foreign country determines that the variance is necessary in light of local growing conditions and that the procedures, processes, and practices to be followed under the variance are reasonably likely to ensure that the produce is not adulterated under section 342 of this title and to provide the same level of public health protection as the requirements of the regulations adopted under subsection (b).
(2)
Variances
(A)
Requests for variances

A State or foreign country from which food is imported into the United States may in writing request a variance from the Secretary. Such request shall describe the variance requested and present information demonstrating that the variance does not increase the likelihood that the food for which the variance is requested will be adulterated under section 342 of this title, and that the variance provides the same level of public health protection as the requirements of the regulations adopted under subsection (b). The Secretary shall review such requests in a reasonable timeframe.

(B)
Approval of variances

The Secretary may approve a variance in whole or in part, as appropriate, and may specify the scope of applicability of a variance to other similarly situated persons.

(C)
Denial of variances

The Secretary may deny a variance request if the Secretary determines that such variance is not reasonably likely to ensure that the food is not adulterated under section 342 of this title and is not reasonably likely to provide the same level of public health protection as the requirements of the regulation adopted under subsection (b). The Secretary shall notify the person requesting such variance of the reasons for the denial.

(D)
Modification or revocation of a variance

The Secretary, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, may modify or revoke a variance if the Secretary determines that such variance is not reasonably likely to ensure that the food is not adulterated under section 342 of this title and is not reasonably likely to provide the same level of public health protection as the requirements of the regulations adopted under subsection (b).

(d)
Enforcement

The Secretary may coordinate with the Secretary of Agriculture and, as appropriate, shall contract and coordinate with the agency or department designated by the Governor of each State to perform activities to ensure compliance with this section.

(e)
Guidance
(1)
In general

Not later than 1 year after January 4, 2011, the Secretary shall publish, after consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, representatives of State departments of agriculture, farmer representatives, and various types of entities engaged in the production and harvesting or importing of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities, including small businesses, updated good agricultural practices and guidance for the safe production and harvesting of specific types of fresh produce under this section.

(2)
Public meetings

The Secretary shall conduct not fewer than 3 public meetings in diverse geographical areas of the United States as part of an effort to conduct education and outreach regarding the guidance described in paragraph (1) for persons in different regions who are involved in the production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities, including persons that sell directly to consumers and farmer representatives, and for importers of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities.

(3)
Paperwork reduction
The Secretary shall ensure that any updated guidance under this section will—
(A)
(B)
acknowledge differences in risk and minimize, as appropriate, the number of separate standards that apply to separate foods.
(f)
Exemption for direct farm marketing
(1)
In general
A farm shall be exempt from the requirements under this section in a calendar year if—
(A)
during the previous 3-year period, the average annual monetary value of the food sold by such farm directly to qualified end-users during such period exceeded the average annual monetary value of the food sold by such farm to all other buyers during such period; and
(B)
the average annual monetary value of all food sold during such period was less than $500,000, adjusted for inflation.
(2)
Notification to consumers
(A)
In general
A farm that is exempt from the requirements under this section shall—
(i)
with respect to a food for which a food packaging label is required by the Secretary under any other provision of this chapter, include prominently and conspicuously on such label the name and business address of the farm where the produce was grown; or
(ii)
with respect to a food for which a food packaging label is not required by the Secretary under any other provision of this chapter, prominently and conspicuously display, at the point of purchase, the name and business address of the farm where the produce was grown, on a label, poster, sign, placard, or documents delivered contemporaneously with the food in the normal course of business, or, in the case of Internet sales, in an electronic notice.
(B)
No additional label

Subparagraph (A) does not provide authority to the Secretary to require a label that is in addition to any label required under any other provision of this chapter.

(3)
Withdrawal; rule of construction
(A)
In general

In the event of an active investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak that is directly linked to a farm subject to an exemption under this subsection, or if the Secretary determines that it is necessary to protect the public health and prevent or mitigate a foodborne illness outbreak based on conduct or conditions associated with a farm that are material to the safety of the food produced or harvested at such farm, the Secretary may withdraw the exemption provided to such farm under this subsection.

(B)
Rule of construction

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to expand or limit the inspection authority of the Secretary.

(4)
Definitions
(A)
Qualified end-user
In this subsection, the term “qualified end-user”, with respect to a food means—
(i)
the consumer of the food; or
(ii)
a restaurant or retail food establishment (as those terms are defined by the Secretary for purposes of section 350d of this title) that is located—
(I)
in the same State as the farm that produced the food; or
(II)
not more than 275 miles from such farm.
(B)
Consumer

For purposes of subparagraph (A), the term “consumer” does not include a business.

(5)
No preemption

Nothing in this subsection preempts State, local, county, or other non-Federal law regarding the safe production, harvesting, holding, transportation, and sale of fresh fruits and vegetables. Compliance with this subsection shall not relieve any person from liability at common law or under State statutory law.

(6)
Limitation of effect

Nothing in this subsection shall prevent the Secretary from exercising any authority granted in the other sections of this chapter.

(g)
Clarification

This section shall not apply to produce that is produced by an individual for personal consumption.

(h)
Exception for activities of facilities subject to section 350g of this title

This section shall not apply to activities of a facility that are subject to section 350g of this title.

(June 25, 1938, ch. 675, § 419, as added Pub. L. 111–353, title I, § 105(a), Jan. 4, 2011, 124 Stat. 3899.)
cite as: 21 USC 350h