Mary Ostlund, marketing director with Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals LLC, said there are three areas to examine where the FDA proposal is concerned: changes in operations, redundant checks in the system, and effect on industry segments.
Where operations are concerned, Brooks grows, packs and ships nearly 70% of what it sells, Brooks said.
“Our fields, harvesting crews, packinghouses and distribution centers have been food safety-audited by an independent third-party auditor for years,” she said.
Ostlund said she anticipates the company having to make no operational changes under the new rules.
Canada has been moving on food safety, as well, with Royal Assent given in November to the Safe Food for Canadians Act, which will trigger regulations and policy designed to strengthen government’s role in food safety.
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association has been active in the formulation of that country’s new rules, and it will comment on the FDA proposal, said Sally Blackman, CPMA’s manager of food safety and nutrition.
“Certainly, what comes down as the final rule is going to impact on Canada because our exporters are going to have to meet the FDA rule,” she said.
The Canadian industry is working to streamline its own rules and is eager to harmonize them with U.S. law, Blackman said.
“Our government is looking to align as closely as possible, within reason,” she said.
It’s a wait-and-see process for some in Canada, said Richard Lee, compliance coordinator for the Leamington-based Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association.
“We’re embracing the concepts and we just need to determine how those proposed changes will impact the way we do business,” he said.
Cost and potential trade barriers are among the top concerns, he said.
“My understanding is the proposal will provide all our members an opportunity to comply,” he said.