FDA & FOOD FACILITIES: To register or not to register?

Dec. 17, 2012

Hello All:

We have received a number of questions related to FOOD FACILITY REGISTRATION under the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act guidelines.  But who really needs to register?

The rule says that any facility that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food for human or animal consumption is required to register as a facility.  However, PRODUCE FARMS ARE EXEMPT from this requirement under MOST conditions, even if you are holding it for a period of time BEFORE sale.

A farm producing fresh fruits and vegetables is exempt from registering as a facility UNLESS...

  • The farm is buying/bringing in produce from OTHER farms and holding that product on site.
  • Bringing in extra product from another farm and storing it in your facility.
  • The farm is processing the raw product into a value-added product, is doing special packing (atmospheric packaging, co-mingled product packing-like fruit salad), dicing or slicing, or other modifications of the product.
  • You have had to register before/in the past under the previous facility regulations.
  • IF you store your produce at an off-site facility that you do not own- then it is THEIR responsibility to register, not yours.

Under these conditions, you must REGISTER YOUR FARM'S STORAGE OR PACKING FACILITY with the FDA.  For farms merely storing produce in cold storage grown on the farm and stored on the farm in a farm-owned facility, you are exempt. There is NOT a time restriction for storage length, either. 

If you DO bring in other product to co-mingle with your own grown produce, or if you do perform extra processing on your fruit or veg, you will have to register with the FDA.  However, registration is easy and free.  How to register?  Go to this website.  You will have to create an account and log-in.   If you would rather, a paper version is also available- the 10 page downloadable PDF of the form can be found here.  It is also an opportunity for you to view the questions before going online to register.

If you are unsure about your farm/facility, feel free to contact us at the OSU fruit and vegetable safety team.  We would be glad to help you determine if you must register or not.  We would be happy to contact the FDA on your behalf with your specific scenario for clarification.