The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a law signed in 2011, provides major changes to food safety laws in the United States. Depending on the size of your farm, compliance dates are as early as January 2018. The law’s Produce Safety Rule (PSR) covers a wide variety of produce, including hops. Today, I will address what you need to know as a hop grower going forward. I am also excited to welcome Dr. Connie Fisk, our regional expert on food safety, to speak at the Nebraska Grower and Brewer Conference in January.
According to the rule, hops are not included in the “rarely consumed raw” category. The rule states:
We are aware that hops are regularly added to beer after all cook steps are completed in a process known as “dry hopping” (Ref. 90). Therefore it would not be reasonable to infer on this basis that hops were not consumed uncooked in any measurable quantity by most consumers across the United States, and we are not adding hops to the list of rarely consumed raw produce. Instead, hops are covered produce subject to the requirements of part 112 as applicable. However, we note that hops used in the making of beer will be eligible for exemption from the requirements of part 112 under the provisions of § 112.2(b)(1), provided the covered farm establishes and maintains documentation in accordance with § 112.2(b)(2).
So as a hop grower, what do you need to do?
If you averaged more than $25,000 revenue from hops in the past three years, you need to take the following steps:
- Determine whether the hops sold were used in the brewing process or “dry hopping.”
- If the majority of the hops were or will be brewed (not used for dry-hopping), request a letter from the purchasers that includes information on the processes the hops will undergo and details of how the pathogens will be killed, such as fermenting or cooking).
If you average more than $25,000 revenue from hops and the majority were used in the dry-hopping process, your farm is covered under the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. This requires that you adopt the Produce Safety Rule.
Any farm covered under the Produce Safety Rule will need to send a single employee to Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Training. Once training is complete, you are eligible for an On Farm Readiness Review. When a farm is ready, a review gives growers the chance to apply the rule, and learn about how to be compliant. Check here for upcoming training opportunities.
Additionally for ALL growers, two steps should be taken:
- The bill of lading, invoice and/or the unit of sale has to have the words, “not processed to adequately reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance” on it.
- The person who bought it needs to provide proof that they actually used it in the making of beer. That can be a letter, but it needs to be written and kept by the seller. (Refer to step #2 above).
Implementation dates are based on total produce sales from an individual farm.
Large business: earned more than $500,000 in average produce sales in the past 3 years. Compliance date: January 26, 2018.
Small business: earned between $250,000 and $500,000 in average produce sales in the past 3 years. Compliance date: January 28, 2019.
Very small business: earned between $25,000 and $250,000 in average produce sales in the past 3 years. Compliance date: January 27, 2020.
Even if you are not required to be in compliance immediately, you should begin to take the necessary steps to begin implementation. The hops market is still a very small market in the region and we should do what we can to prevent anything from ruining it.
If you have questions, contact Katie Kreuser, Hop Program Coordinator, by phone, 402.472.3036, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.