U.S. FDA offers training to assist Chilean farmers who export fresh products to the United States

Blackberries grown on a small farmer's farm in the town of Molina, in Curico.

Produce safety experts from the United States Food and Drug Administration (@FDA) in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and a Cooperative Extension expert from the U.S., in coordination with @IICA, @ACHIPIA, and the FDA Regional Office for Latin America, met from January 13-16 to conduct an International On-Farm Readiness Review (I-OFRR) Reviewer Training course Chilean government and cooperative extension professionals from @ACHIPIA, @INDAP, and @SAG agencies within Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture were trained in the use of this new voluntary tool to assist Chilean farmers who export fresh agricultural products to the U.S. The activity was held in the Raihuén Research Center of the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), located in Villa Alegre, Linares. The course included classroom training, as well as practical training exercises at local berry farms in Linares.

The goal of the training was to create a cadre of I-OFRR Reviewers in Chile and Latin America that could offer the I-OFRR tool to its stakeholders and to share the I-OFRR tool internationally to help local farmers that export to the U.S., evaluate their level of readiness and compliance with the U.S. Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The Produce Safety Rule implements provisions of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act or FSMA, which required that FDA establish science-based, minimum standards for safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh produce. It sets mandatory minimum standards for employee health and hygiene; soil amendments (compost/ manure); equipment, tools and buildings; and domesticated and wild animals.

This training program also offers an opportunity for @FDA to learn from local government and industry experts about local operations and methods, as well as any challenges faced by the local industry to comply with the PSR, or other areas of food safety.

Fresh blueberries, after table grapes, constitute the second most important fresh produce in exports of fresh fruit from Chile to the United States. The VII region of Maule, Chile (Curicó, Linares and Talca) is responsible for 29% of the national production of blueberries. On the other hand, frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries) have an economic and social impact of great importance for small agricultural producers, many of which are produced in the Maule Region and exported to the United States.

This was the second offering of the International-OFRR Reviewer Training program in Latin America (first one conducted in Costa Rica in May of 2019).

Additional information about @FDA International-OFRR tool

@FDA’s International-OFRR tool is a voluntary, educational opportunity for farmers to assess how well they are prepared to meet the requirements of the U.S. Produce Safety Rule (PSR).  The PSR is one of the seven foundational rules in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  The On-Farm Readiness Review promotes compliance with the PSR, provides on-farm learning experiences, promotes coordination between fresh produce stakeholders, identifies knowledge gaps, and helps farms better prepare for @FDA routine inspections.