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Teleconference set with FDA on FSMA implementationA teleconference set up by the Produce Safety Alliance with staff from the Food and Drug Administration will provide industry the latest information from the agency on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern time on July 7, the event is free. To register, click here.

The FDA’s deputy director of food safety and applied nutrition, Kathy Gombas, is scheduled as the primary presenter. She and other FDA staff will be available after the presentation for a question and answer session, according to a news release.

The focus of the teleconference will be on the FDA’s strategy for rules that are required by the Act, according to the release. The agency released its operational strategy in May, with the next phase being implementation, despite the fact that some rules are not yet final.

“Although the key provisions within the revised produce rule have not yet been released, we plan to move forward with training throughout the country prior to the final regulation,” according to the most recent newsletter from the alliance.

The Produce Safety Alliance, a collaborative effort by the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cornell University, is headed by director Elizabeth Bihn and charged with providing the fresh produce industry with information and training related to FSMA.

The alliance is particularly concerned about helping smaller growers and shippers in the fresh produce industry, Bihn said. The group has been working on curriculum for trainers as well, and plans to begin its train-the-trainer pilot sessions this summer.

Dozens of volunteers are working with the alliance to develop its educational materials. The materials include seven key areas and are in the review stage, according to Bihn. Alliance steering committee members, who include growers, other representatives from the produce industry, extension educators and regulatory officials, are expected to sign off on the curriculum soon.

Once the curriculum is approved and the trainers are trained, the alliance will begin scheduling sessions with growers and shippers across the country. The first of those sessions is anticipated this fall. Details on the progress of the alliance and its training programs are available on its website at