The Food and Drug Administration finally released the proposed food safety regulations for growers and food manufacturers, but it should have less impact than many people believe.
That’s not to say food safety isn’t an important issue.
On the contrary.
It’s so important, the produce industry has been working on its own in many ways to make its products safer in the market and to recall them quickly when there’s a problem.
Produce growers and shippers know they need to document their food safety practices, so that part of the regulations won’t change their operations. And good agricultural practices have been in place for many years.
Much has been made of the exemption for small growers in the week since the rules were released, but this too can be a non-issue.
As many a food scientist has pointed out, pathogens know no difference in the size of the farm.
Buyers can simply insist that their suppliers, regardless of size, follow the final regulations.
If a consumer gets sick, the traceback starts at the places he or she ate, and that usually means restaurants and supermarkets, who can’t afford the bad publicity and public distrust.
It’s frustrating that the publishing of the proposed rules has taken so long, but the industry should be thankful FDA has been so open with it through the process.
Hopefully a reasonable give-and-take can occur during this 120-day comment period.
In addition, broad industry groups, such as the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association, should work closely together, so produce companies and organizations don’t waste time duplicating efforts.
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