Bridging the GAPs: Approaches to Treating Water On Farms

F S MA AN D AG R I CU L TU R A L WA T E R T R E A TM E N T

In this module, we will focus on both system evaluation as well as troubleshooting if problems arise. We will cover basic components, methods for monitoring chemicals as well as UV light treatment systems and approaches for correcting issues as they arise. We’ll also discuss a multitiered approach to water treatment and monitoring.

FSMA Def inition and Requirements of Agr icultural Water

The Produce Safety Rule

America’s food safety net has gotten tighter over the last decade. In 2011 Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which required the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be more proactive about maintaining the safety of our food supply. In 2016 the FDA began to enforce the Produce Safety Rule (21 CFR Part 112), a specific set of FSMA rules to help reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses from fresh produce. The Produce Safety Rule requires a set of science-based minimum standards to reduce the risk of microbiological contamination from growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce. This is the first time that many fresh produce growers are required to comply with FDA requirements. A major source of potential contamination is the water that fresh produce growers use for everything from irrigation and fertigation to crop sprays and frost protection. Under the Produce Safety Rule, by 2024 many farms will have to meet agricultural water quality requirements that reduce the risk of exposure to human pathogens (with certain farms having earlier deadlines). To help farmers comply with these new regulations, this publication explores farm water treatment methods and products, treatment implementation, and best practices for maintaining safe agricultural water.

Agricultural Production Water

Water used in food production is known to be a potential source of contamination, allowing for widespread contamination throughout growing, harvesting, and handling of fresh produce. Within the Produce Safety Rule, the FDA defines agricultural water in Subpart E as water used in activities on covered produce where water is intended to, or is likely to, contact covered produce or food contact surfaces, including water used in growing activities… and in harvesting, packing, and holding activities (21 CFR 112). Based on FDA’s definition, agricultural water can be divided into two categories according to its intended use: 1) agricultural production water, and 2) harvest/post-harvest water. Agricultural production water is used during growing activities and is either intended to or is likely to contact the edible portion of covered produce during the growing season. Examples of agricultural production water include overhead irrigation, fertigation, crop sprays, and frost protection, to name a few. Agricultural water intended for harvest/postharvest includes water that comes in direct contact with the harvested produce as

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