Logo for N.C. Cooperative Extension N.C. Cooperative Extension Homepage

How Is Produce Classified Under the Produce Safety Rule?

Within the scope of FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule, produce is defined as any fruit or vegetable (including mixes of intact fruits and vegetables) and includes mushrooms, sprouts (irrespective of seed source), peanuts, tree nuts and herbs.

Under the Produce Safety Rule produce can be classified as:

A) Covered produce

B) Produce that is not covered.

C) Produce that is eligible for exemption from the requirements of covered produce because it will be further processed.

A) Covered Produce.

Produce that is considered a raw agricultural commodity (RAC) and that is grown domestically or that is imported or offered for import in any State or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is considered covered produce by FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule.

A raw agricultural commodity (RAC) is any food in its raw or natural state, including all fruits that are washed, colored, or otherwise treated in their unpeeled natural form prior to marketing.

The following are examples of covered produce:

  1. (1) Fruits and vegetables such as almonds, apples, apricots, apriums, Artichokes-globe-type, Asian pears, avocados, babacos, bananas, Belgian endive, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, brazil nuts, broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, burdock, cabbages, Chinese cabbages (Boy Choy, mustard, and Napa), cantaloupes, carambolas, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chayote fruit, cherries (sweet), chestnuts, chicory (roots and tops), citrus (such as clementine, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mandarin, oranges, tangerines, tangors, and uniq fruit), cowpea beans, cress-garden, cucumbers, curly endive, currants, dandelion leaves, fennel-Florence, garlic, genip, gooseberries, grapes, green beans, guavas, herbs (such as basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, and parsley), honeydews, huckleberries, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kiwifruit, kohlrabi, kumquats, leek, lettuce, lychees, macadamia nuts, mangos, other melons (such as Canary, Crenshaw and Persian), mulberries, mushrooms, mustard greens, nectarines, onions, papayas, parsnips, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peas, peas-pigeon, peppers (such as belland hot), pine nuts, pineapples, plantains, plums, plumcots, quince, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, rutabagas, scallions, shallots, snow peas, soursop, spinach, sprouts (such as alfalfa and mung bean), strawberries, summer squash (such as patty pan, yellow and zucchini), sweetsop, Swiss chard, taro, tomatoes, turmeric, turnips (roots and tops), walnuts, watercress, watermelons, and yams; and
  2. (2) Mixes of intact fruits and vegetables (such as fruit baskets).

B) Produce that is not covered.

1. Produce that is rarely consumed raw is not covered by the PS Rule.  The following crops are rarely consumed raw crops, specifically the produce on the following exhaustive list:

  • Asparagus; beans, black; beans, great Northern; beans, kidney; beans, lima; beans, navy; beans, pinto; beets, garden (roots and tops); beets, sugar; cashews; cherries, sour; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; corn, sweet; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weeds); eggplants; figs; ginger; hazelnuts; horseradish; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; squash, winter; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts.

2. Produce that is grown for personal consumption or produced for consumption on the farm or another farm under the same management.

3. Produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity.

C) Produce that is eligible for exemption from the requirements of covered produce because it will be further processed.

If the produce receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance it is eligible for exemption from the requirements for covered produce. Examples of commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance are processing in accordance with the requirements of part 113, 114, or 120 of the CFR 21  (THERMALLY PROCESSED LOW-ACID FOODS PACKAGED IN HERMETICALLY SEALED CONTAINERSACIDIFIED FOODS AND HAZARD ANALYSIS AND CRITICAL CONTROL POINT (HACCP) SYSTEMS) treating with a validated process to eliminate spore-forming microorganisms (such as processing to produce tomato paste or shelf-stable tomatoes), and processing such as refining, distilling, or otherwise manufacturing/processing produce into products such as sugar, oil, spirits, wine, beer or similar products.

Farms must disclose in documents accompanying the produce, in accordance with the practice of the trade, that the food is ‘‘not processed to adequately reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance;’’ and must either:

(i) Annually obtain written assurance from the customer that performs the commercial processing that the customer has established and is following procedures that adequately reduce the presence of organisms of public health significance or

(ii)Annually obtain written assurance from your customer that an entity in the distribution chain subsequent to the customer will perform commercial processing as required by the Rule.

For more information on this topic: See Subpart A- General Provisions of the Produce Safety Rule, Sections 112.1 and 112.2.

Written By

Photo of Elena RogersElena RogersArea Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Food Safety - Fresh Produce Western NC Serves 50 CountiesBased out of Caldwell County(828) 352-2519 elena_rogers@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
Was the information on this page helpful? Yes check No close