Safe Wisconsin Produce - Home


Safe Wisconsin Produce is a Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) program to adopt federal food safety regulations in a manner that makes sense for our state’s produce growers to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of food produced in Wisconsin. Wisconsin ranks 11th in the nation for number of produce farms, and second for number of organic produce farms. For more information about production amounts of produce in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin agricultural statistics.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most comprehensive reform of the nation's food safety laws in more than 70 years, and was signed into law on January 4, 2011. Its goal is to better protect public health by shifting U.S. food supply safety efforts from responding to contamination, to prevention. FSMA is comprised of seven rules that span the entire food supply chain and will impact Wisconsin growers and produce processors. These rules include the following:

The Produce Safety Rule establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables. It sets requirements for growers and packers to reduce the risk of microbial contamination during operations under their control.

The Produce Safety Rule is divided into the following parts:
  • Agricultural Water: Requirements include ensuring that water that is intended or likely to contact produce or food-contact surfaces is safe and of adequate sanitary quality, with inspection and periodic testing requirements.
  • Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin: The rule addresses the classification, treatment, methods of application, and time intervals between application and crop harvest of certain soil amendments (for example, raw and composted animal manure) in order to minimize contamination risks.
  • Domesticated and Wild Animals: Requirements include taking measures to reduce risks associated with animals in and around produce fields, such as deterring animal presence, monitoring for signs of intrusion, and not harvesting produce visibly contaminated with feces.
  • Worker Training, Health, and Hygiene: The rule stablishes training requirements for farm supervisors and personnel who handle produce, and requires following hygienic practices, including hand washing, not working when sick, and maintaining personal cleanliness.
  • Equipment, Tools, and Buildings: The rule sets design, cleanliness, and sanitation requirements for equipment and tools that come into contact with produce, as well as for buildings and other facilities.
  • Sprouts: The rule establishes a separate set of standards for sprout producers, to be enforced by federal authorities. For more information, visit the Sprout Safety Alliance website. In Wisconsin, sprout growers are held to the current good manufacturing practices for food, and are licensed and inspected as food processing plants.  

In addition to these standards, there are requirements to maintain records of certain activities, both to demonstrate a farm’s status under the rule and to verify compliance. More information on record keeping requirements and a set of printable templates can be found on the national Produce Safety Alliance website.

DATCP, through a cooperative agreement with the FDA, is responsible for enforcing the Produce Safety Rule in Wisconsin. Prior to compliance, DATCP will work with produce growers to help them implement the required food safety practices.

Safe Wisconsin Produce is DATCP's program that emphasizes an educational approach to food safety regulatory requirements, prior to compliance. DATCP has been working to identify and address the needs of produce growers in Wisconsin impacted by the Produce Safety Rule. Over the next few years, Safe Wisconsin Produce, along with partner organizations (such as, University of Wisconson-Extension, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Midwest Organic, and Sustainable Education Services) will work together so growers and producers have access to resources and training before inspections begin.

This approach begins with grower training classes for individuals. The classes satisfy a key requirement for the Produce Safety Rule.

The next step for produce growers is to request an on-farm readiness review. A review is a free, voluntary assessment of a farm for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule. It is a non-regulatory, pre-inspectional readiness review of a farm’s individual operation, and helps identify gaps between rule requirements and on-farm practices. An on-farm readiness review is also completely anonymous; no records are kept, and all notes and materials remain with the grower. If you are interested in requesting a review, or would like more information, complete the grower questionnaire.