USDA established the “Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption” as part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. Commonly referred to as the Produce Rule, USDA Economic Research Service looked at the impact this rule has had on the requirements retailers are imposing on produce suppliers.
USDA conducted a study of retailers to determine whether they have changed food safety requirements expected of growers. Although retailers commonly require third-party audits of food safety practices, the Produce Rule does not require these audits and provides exemptions and variances for smaller growers or particular commodities.
The USDA study found that retailers already requiring these audits will continue to do so. Retailers also expect to continue to impose food safety requirements on growers uniformly. Retailers indicated they expect some growers may stop supplying them when the Produce Rule takes effect.