The FDA this week issued a proposed rule that would relax registration requirements for some establishments, such as farms, that sell food directly to consumers.
Under the current regulation, food facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for consumption in the United States must register with FDA. However, establishments defined as “retail food establishments,” farms, restaurants, and certain other entities are exempt from the requirement to register. The proposed rule, according to FDA, would amend the definition of a retail food establishment in a way that would expand the number of establishments that fall into that category and are exempt from registration.
FDA currently defines a retail food establishment as one that sells food products directly to consumers as its primary function. Further, the agency specifies that establishment’s primary function is to sell food directly to consumers if the annual monetary value of sales of food products directly to consumers exceeds the annual monetary value of sales of food products to all other buyers. The proposed rule would clarify that sale of food directly to consumers from an on-farm establishment includes sales by the establishment at such direct sales platforms as roadside stands, farmers’ markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. This change, according to FDA, would qualify more farms that market directly to consumers as retail food establishments, making them exempt from registration requirements.
FDA estimates that there are approximately 71,000 farms that only sell food products directly to consumers in ways that include farmers markets, roadside stands and CSA programs. However, FDA does not have data to determine how many of those farms currently need to register and would become exempt under the proposed rule.
The FDA is accepting public comments beginning on April 9, 2015. Read more from FDA.