The Produce Safety Rule & Connecticut’s Fruit, Vegetable and Sprout Grower Inspection Programs


Welcome
Welcome to the CT Department of Agriculture (DoAg) Produce Safety and Inspection Program. As of 2021, the US-FDA Food Safety Modernization Act - Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is now being enforced in Connecticut. This inspection program is mandatory for Fruit and Vegetable Growers with annual sales over $25,000 (certain exemptions apply, see qualified exemption below) and for all Sprout Growers (no exceptions).  The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years. It was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011.   

One of these regulations, "Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption," is of critical importance to growers of fresh produce. Known more simply as the "Produce Safety Rule," this regulation establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum food safety standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and sprouts intended for human consumption.

Looking for the UConn CAHNR Extension Food Safety for Farmers and Growers website? 

We have developed this page to help you access the following resources:

1- The Produce Safety Rule (PSR): Produce Farm and Grower Registration Requirements

2-Connecticut Good Agricultural Practices (CGAP) program for produce growers – CGAP Registration
3- Grower Training
4-DoAg Grants: Financial Assistance
5-How to Locate Registered Produce Growers and Registered Farms Participating in CGAP     


1- The Produce Safety Rule: Produce Farm and Grower Registration Requirement 

Why CT Produce Growers Must Comply to the PSR
Connecticut General Statute 22-39g authorizes DoAg to enforce US-FDA FSMA, Part 112, the Produce Safety Rule (PSR)  as of 2021. This state statute requires firms growing fruits, vegetables and sprouts for human consumption to comply with the food safety requirements of the PSR. This involves registering your farm with DoAg. DoAg and UConn CAHNR Extension have continued their partnership to enable a smoother transition for farmers and growers.

Farms Subject to the PSR Rule

All fruit and vegetable growers selling over $25,000 in produce sales and all sprout growers are subject to inspections of the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fresh fruit and vegetables, and growing sprouts for human consumption.  Register your agribusiness in eLicense. The FDA-supplied flow chart  may help in determining whether you need to register.  

Farms Can Apply for a Qualified Exemption from the PSR
There is an opportunity to ask for a Qualified Exemption from PSR. This exemption is in place for farms with less than $500,000 in total food sales that sell the majority of their produce directly to qualified end users (direct to consumer, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, etc.). Your farm business must register, and submit a Declaration on the eLicense portal to the CT Department of Agriculture (DoAg) to claim your exempt status. 

Please Note: The exemption does not exempt you from keeping certain records that qualify you for the exemption, including a written record reflecting that you have performed an annual review and verification of your farm's continued eligibility for the qualified exemption. 

Farms That are Not Required to Registered May Voluntarily Register
Farms with less than $25,000 in produce sales are not required to register or be inspected. These farms may submit a Declaration on the eLicense portal to inform the Department that they are exempt.

How to Use the eLicense System
A step by step guide, "How to Use the eLicense System for Fruit and Vegetable Growers", has been created to assist you in using eLicense and registering. There is no fee to register. Some programs, such as CGAP, may require inspection fees. 

Please note:
 All produce farmers and growers, regardless of size and circumstance are subject to for-cause inspections such as a foodborne illness investigation or complaint investigations. 

IMPORTANT: Farms that are required to register pursuant to the Produce Safety Rule must have at least one person trained in the FDA Produce Safety Rule. Any farm growing and selling fruits and vegetables regardless of size can attend the Produce Grower Training discussed below

Questions, Concerns or Assistance
For questions regarding the PSR or CGAP, please:
email the DoAg Produce Safety Unit 
or call 860-713-2522.

In case of difficulties using the eLicense portal, please contact:
DoAg Licensing Unit  
Phone: 860-713-2512, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 p.m. 
Email:  AGLicensing@ct.gov

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2- Connecticut Good Agricultural Practices (CGAP) Program for Produce Growers –
CGAP Registration

Voluntary CGAP
The Department's CGAP program is voluntary food safety audit program for produce growers. CGAP builds on the FDA Produce Safety Rule and adds additional requirements for records, a recall program and training programs designed to enhance the food safety culture on the produce farm. After a successful audit by DoAg auditors, CGAP participants are provided a certificate they can provide to their wholesale customers that verifies their status in the CGAP program. Farm businesses wishing to participate can register for the DoAg CGAP using the eLicense portal. Additionally produce growers can utilize 3rd party GAP programs or USDA’s GAP program. To understand the differences between GAP and the produce safety rule the Association of Food and Drug Officials have created a document for download.

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3- Grower Training

UConn CAHNR Cooperative Extension: Understand, Train and Get Prepared to Comply
DoAg has long held a partnership with UConn CAHNR Cooperative Extension. UConn CAHNR Cooperative Extension plays a key role in your firm successfully complying with the PSR. If you are a produce farmer or grower you will find contacts and information to help you understand, prepare and implement produce safety requirements for your business.  Visit the UConn CAHNR Extension’s Food Safety for Farmers and Growers webpage. Also, you will find experts that can prepare you and your business for a successful inspection or audit.

Stay Current: Sign Up for Produce Safety Email List
Any produce grower, retailer, distributor, service provider, or regulator can keep up with current information to help you better understand produce safety issues. Sign up for a UConn CAHNR Extension Produce Safety email list. You will receive news about PSR, GAP audits, training and more. 

On-Farm Readiness Reviews Available
To prepare your farm for PSR or a Third Party Audit like CGAP, produce farms can participate in a free UConn CAHNR Extension On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR).  During an OFRR, a trained UConn CAHNR Food Safety Extension Educator will visit your farm and review your practices and devise a plan for you to comply. Even if you are exempt, you can still participate in an OFRR. These are educational in nature, not a regulatory situation. To arrange a free OFFR, contact UConn CAHNR Extension educator, Indu Upadhyaya for training and education opportunities.

To request an OFRR, contact:
Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD
Cell: 860-786-8191 (preferred)
Phone: 860-871-0776
Email: indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu

Produce Safety Training: How to Sign Up for UConn-Offered Produce Safety Alliance Training
The PSR states/requires at least one responsible person from each farm trained in an FDA approved food safety curriculum. So far, there is only one such curriculum, the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training. You can read more about the training on UConn CAHNR Extension's Alliance Grower Training webpage.

UConn CAHNR Extension generally offers the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training about three times a year. This is based upon the number of participants and availability, so the frequency will vary. Tentatively, the trainings are once in November/December and twice in the February/March timeframe. To be notified of the course registration information, email indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu

Produce Safety Alliance at Cornell
More information about the actual training class can be found at Produce Safety Alliance site at Cornell

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4-DoAg Grants: Financial Assistance

The Department does have grants open to variance segments of the agricultural community. Review the DoAg grant programs here. 

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5-How to Locate Registered Produce Growers and Registered Farms Participating in CGAP 

Looking for CT Grown produce? Wholesale buyers, farmers and growers can generate a roster, a list, of current registered produce growers or produce growers enrolled in the Department’s CGAP program using the eLicence public site.  You do not have to register to obtain this list. 

This step by step document will show you  "How to Make an eLicense Roster for Fruit and Vegetable Growers" on the eLicense site. 


If you encounter difficulties with the eLicense portal, please contact:
DoAg Licensing Unit  
Phone: 860-713-2512, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm 
Email:  AGLicensing@ct.gov

If you require assistance locating CT Grown compliant with the Produce Safety Rule or CGAP, contact: 
Bureau of Regulatory Services 
Produce Safety Unit
Phone: 860-713-2522
Email: agr.producesafety@ct.gov

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