Your Upstart Farm and the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act

Let’s be honest.

You just read the title to this blog and thought, “What the heck does this horrendously long-titled act have to do with my farm?”

It’s less intimidating than it sounds, but complying with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act is an important part of submitting a successful application to Whole Foods and other grocery stores.

This is yet another element of compliance that your farm will need to follow before targeting the grocery market.

Altogether, the complying with the act is a relatively simple process – you just need to fill out an online form.

But in the interest of making your life easier, here’s a little background information about the act and what your farm will need to provide.

What exactly is the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act?

From the FDA website:

“The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the food regulatory agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, to take steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food-related emergencies.”

csa basketsEssentially, the FDA is trying to keep everyone safe from food-borne illness or other contamination in the food supply.

The legislation applies to manufacturers, processors, packers, and handlers of fruits and vegetables, along with many other foods.

In order to comply with the act, your farm (a “food facility”) must register with the FDA when the sale and consumption of your produce is transferred off premises and outside of your organization – that is, when you target a grocery market. We’ve yet to encounter any smaller or direct markets where registering was necessary, but always double check with your customers.

You must renew your registration biennially during October 1 and December 31 of each even-numbered year. The renewal process is shorter than the initial registration.

If your farm has a change in info, change in ownership, or goes out of business, you must notify the FDA.

Compliance with the act is required before you begin selling to grocery store markets, particularly Whole Foods. You may be asked to provide details about your registration during the grocery store’s application process.

What information will I need to provide?

Your farm will need to provide information about:

  • Previous owners of the farm facility
  • Farm name, address, and general contact information
  • Any alternate trade names you operate under
  • Information about a parent company, if you have one
  • Emergency contact information
  • The general product categories dealt with and activities conducted at your farm surrounding food for human and animal consumption
  • Owner/operator information

Overall, the form – though a little lengthy – is easy for Upstart Farmers to complete. The product categories you’re serving – vegetables and, possibly, fruits – are low risk and don’t require much information other than the check of a box. If you’re using the live sales model, it’s even easier, as you have no manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding operations to worry about.

You won’t need to provide copies of any kind of supporting documentation; all of the questions are so straightforward that nothing of the kind is needed.

Before submitting the form, you must permit the FDA to inspect the facility as permitted by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.

Finally, you must certify that the information you provided is true and accurate and that you are authorized to submit the registration.

Essentially, complying only takes a bit of your time. You can even save, exit, and return in the middle of registration.


Where do I register?

You can register online at this link. Registering is completely free of charge.

Be sure to keep a copy of your registration number and PIN.

If you have further questions before registering, this is a great resource.

Good luck!