Produce Safety Inspections

Clearing up the Who, When and How Often of On-Farm Produce Safety Inspections

Let’s start with who is doing the inspections. In Michigan, we have adopted the Produce Safety Rule, 21 CFR 112, into Michigan law. That means an inspector from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) will conduct an On-Farm Produce Safety Inspection, not the FDA.

Every farm “covered” by the Produce Safety Rule (meaning they grow, harvest, pack or hold produce that may typically be eaten raw and have average annual produce sales more than $25,000) is now eligible and will get an initial inspection from MDARD by 2026. Initial inspections will focus heavily on identifying any risks and guiding growers to free resources, so food safety improvements can be made before routine inspections start. Inspections encompass your entire farm. We will expect to observe growing fields or greenhouses, harvesting operations, packing operations, holding locations, records, and any equipment or buildings that may otherwise impact produce safety. The focus is on observing your farm in action. A written report will be provided to you following all inspections.

Based on your farm practices, we intend to conduct routine inspections on a 3 to 5-year basis. You can potentially reduce how often you get routine inspections by:

1. Taking the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training;
2. Completing a Produce Safety Risk Assessment and earning a certificate;
3. Requesting an On-Farm Readiness Review;
4. Completing a Farm Food Safety Plan; and,
5. Completing the or directly contacting your .

If we have incomplete farm data or don’t know that you’ve taken steps like those listed above to minimize risk, your farm is automatically placed in a higher risk category resulting in more frequent inspections.

If you qualify for a Processing Exemption or a Qualified Exemption, your routine inspections will involve a brief file review and can easily be completed by phone or email. We will simply verify that you’re still eligible for your exemption and then provide you a report. If your farm is not covered by the Produce Safety Rule, we will not conduct routine inspections; however, we may continue to contact you every 3-5 years to verify your farm status.

While we may stop by your farm to introduce ourselves and verify your farm information, we will always make every attempt possible to schedule an initial or routine inspection ahead of time. We recognize your time is valuable and limited. We want to schedule the inspection at a time when we can observe and learn about your farm, assess your operation, and provide resources.

You can contact your MDARD inspector with questions about the Produce Safety Rule or inspections at any time. In addition, your Conservation District produce safety technicians are available for free and confidential technical assistance.