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Understanding FSMA's Preventive Controls Rule: A Guide for Grain Businesses

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Developed by the Artisan Grain Collaborative and Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, “Understanding FSMA's Preventive Controls Rule: A Guide for Grain Businesses” empowers grain farmers, processors, and food manufacturers to understand and comply with federal food safety laws.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which became law in 2011, has been the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. federal food safety laws in seven decades. For businesses conducting food processing and handling, a key component is the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule (PCR), which requires them to evaluate possible food safety hazards, take action to prevent or reduce those hazards, and create monitoring systems to ensure the actions they take are effective. It can be challenging for small- and medium-sized farms, which are often multi-faceted businesses that store, process, distribute and market foods, to determine if and how the PCR applies to them. This guide aims to help, by including:

  • background information on the evolution of regional grainsheds and key terminology;
  • a flowchart to help grain farms and businesses determine what type of entity category they fall into according to the regulatory language;
  • information specific to farms, processing facilities, retail food establishments, and restaurants;
  • information about how the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule applies to various entities that process grains; and 
  • a discussion of how particular activities fit within the rule and helps producers understand if and how their activities make them subject to it.

This guide was funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Photo courtesy of the Artisan Grain Collaborative and Hazzard Free Farm.