FDA: Federal food safety law carries price tag

01/04/2013 03:31:00 PM
Tom Karst

See also: "FDA rolls out first rules on federal food safety law."

FDAThe costs to fruit and vegetable growers for complying with the newly proposed produce safety regulation have been estimated at more than $30,000 annually for large farms and about $13,000 per year for smaller farms.

Those figures come from the Food and Drug Administration’s cost-and-benefit analysis of the produce safety rule regulation, one of two proposed Food Safety Modernization Act components released Jan. 4.

The FDA estimates the new food safety regulations on growing and packing will prevent 1.75 million foodborne illnesses annually.

The proposed rule imposes new standards on growers for worker training and hygiene, agricultural water purity, biological soil amendments, equipment, tools and buildings. Exemptions to the proposed rule were carved out for produce commodities rarely consumed raw, produce used for personal or on-farm consumption, produce that receives a “kill step” to reduce the presence of microorganisms and farms with average annual sales of $25,000 or less.

Other growers with sales less than $500,000 (and who sell mostly to consumers or nearby retailers and restaurants) can qualify for exemption or fewer mandates — as outlined in the Tester Amendment.

The FDA calculates the benefit from reduced foodborne illnesses to be $1.04 billion. The FDA estimates the cost of the legislation to domestic farms at $460 million annually and $171 million a year for foreign farms. Net benefit was calculated to be $406 million annually.

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said it is hard to predict foodborne illness outbreaks. He said one of the benefits of the regulation is greater consumer confidence in produce safety and less damage to the industry from recalls.

Taylor said FDA plans to collaborate with the produce industry, state agriculture departments and University Extension agents to educate growers on the new requirements and to provide technical assistance and training.

Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the FDA, said in a Jan. 4 news conference that the produce safety rule will allow small and large farms to organize themselves around one set of standards, rather than multiple standards from multiple buyers.

“Now there is going to be a uniform, agreed-upon approach that I think will both be driven by the best possible science and be agreed up and enforced at various levels, both local, state, industry and by FDA,” she said.


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Chuck    
Fla  |  January, 04, 2013 at 05:04 PM

Americans are to pay $460 million, foriegn farms pay$171 million. Over 60% of the fresh fruits and veg consumed in the US are from foriegn farms according to the USDA perhaps I don't know how to do math but this doesn't calculate! Are American farms to help pay foriegn farms portion of food safety? Americans speak up!

fruitgal    
visalia  |  January, 05, 2013 at 09:21 AM

Chris -do you realize that most EU and the UK has had these standards for a while now, and for most growers exporting to the US this is just a few more forms. US growers are shamefully behind...

Chris    
Asheville, NC  |  January, 05, 2013 at 05:34 AM

680 pages... I can't afford for this farm to buy the paper to print it out, much less comply with this rule. Who is going to pay to fence my 20 acres?

dhinds    
Guadalajara  |  January, 05, 2013 at 07:01 AM

Regarding the article's (and the commentator's) focus: $ Is that what this is really about? "The proposed rule imposes new standards on growers for worker training and hygiene, agricultural water purity, biological soil amendments, equipment, tools and buildings". Is that a necessary and valid goal? Of course! Serious (including fatal) Diseases have been spread by contaminated (improperly grown and handled) Produce. Is that goal implemented in law effectively and efficiently? That's the real question. (After reading the law and observing it's implementation we can comment further).

Bill Gerlach    
Bolulder, Colorado  |  January, 05, 2013 at 12:58 PM

And what is the cost of a human life?

Toth    
Las Vegas  |  January, 05, 2013 at 04:52 PM

One more nail in the coffin of small farmers. Check the health condition of illegals. More regulations to come, promise.

Mark    
Michigan  |  January, 06, 2013 at 10:31 PM

You can have all the food safety measures pre-retail you want but until you stop the consumer from handling produce at the retail counter and causing contamination via their unclean hands our efforts on the farm and in the packing house are a waste of time. The cleanest produce can be contaminated by the consumer hand that was not washed prior to leaving the restroom. Maybe spending tax money to educate the consumer to wash their hands and produce would be a more realistic approach.

Veronica    
North Florida  |  January, 07, 2013 at 07:52 AM

This is the large growers paying protection money to the FDA to push small farmers out.

Jill    
Pittsburgh, PA  |  January, 07, 2013 at 08:21 AM

Why do you have illegals working for you?

j hALE    
Ellijay, Ga  |  January, 07, 2013 at 09:30 AM

Just more regulations to give government employees a reason to exist. One more nail in the coffin of the small farmer who cannot afford to hire someone to keep up with wll the paperwork the government requires. We have farmed our whole life. We eat the food we grow as do our kids and grandkids. We don't need the government to tell us how to grow clean and safe food...WE KNOW.

Joel Nelsen    
California  |  January, 07, 2013 at 10:26 AM

First weekend read is that this doc is loaded with inconsistencies. For example it is suppose to be scienced base yet it gives latitude based upon economic factors and makes some wrong assumptions therein. It also creates a broad brusk solution path as if all commodities are farmed in the same manner. The massive cost is an issue but citing EU willingness to comply for years misses the mark. EU fresh produce producers receive massive subsidies some of which is directed to underwriting this type of program.

Colleen    
California  |  January, 07, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Amen Veronica. If they can't starve them out or dry them out by taking their water, they'll regulate them out with the government's blessing. Seems a bit disparate, 30k to large producers and 13k to producers over 25k. Hellooooo!

    
January, 08, 2013 at 08:58 AM

Some US growers are behind

Richard    
Colorado  |  January, 09, 2013 at 01:15 PM

For boththe produce rule and the prevention rule, I think it come is over 1200 pages!

Richard    
Colorado  |  January, 09, 2013 at 01:19 PM

No one will disagree that you can't put a dollar figure on human helath and life, I just think that most everyone in the industry will question whether or not this law will do anything. I am certain that FDA's estimates on what this law will help prevent are woefully over optimisitic.

Jon    
WA  |  January, 09, 2013 at 07:30 PM

Unlike other businesses, we can't simply pass this cost on to the consumer. If we could, people would be crying about the "true" cost of food here in America. The small farm will get rail roaded. I personally refuse to do business with anyone who says I have to do GATT, let alone this. I'll rip out the orchard before that. People forget it was the family farm that allowed city folks to stay & live in the city. And then the city folk come out to tell use how to do it.....grow your own then.

cappy    
OH  |  January, 11, 2013 at 05:06 PM

Guess what, I QUIT! No more fresh produce. LET MEXICO GROW IT. My farm is going back to corn/soybeans so all these do gooders can fuel their cars. My wife is Mexican, her uncle has 1500 HA in production in Southern MX. They have been following many of these mandates for years and can do so very inexpensive due to $13/day labor. All their #1's ship to the US, the rest stays in MX for Walmart and is less processed/cleaned. How is it that Mexicans can eat it and not have problems? Can you say immunity? The same immunity Americans had 30 years ago before the clean freaks/scientists (people with all those letters behind their names and can't think more than one step deep) got involved. Soon, the "clean room" technology will have to be expanded to your house, car and offices... Oh, the current flu epidemic? Just a normal, predicted strain attacking people who have less immunity. Sign of things to come? Someone mentioned the EU on here, now that has not worked out so well has it? And we are right behind them. Once a country with the resources and technology to feed the world, won't be able to feed itself. We all now live in a country of has beens, regulated and priced right out of existence. At least for my wife (Biology PHD, 25 years at a US Fortune 10 company) and I (once a proud white, born American farmer), have dual citizenship, are heavily investing in MX production land so we can feed you! Adios Amigos!

John    
Florida  |  January, 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Actually, cappy, there are very large numbers of gastrointestinal ailments all throughout Mexico. You just don't hear about it, because you don't yet live in mexico, and their recording/reporting of these events is not as open as in the US. I work with over 200 Mexicans here in the states, and it is very common to hear of them or their family members getting food poisoning and even needing to have portions of their intestines removed when they were living in mexico. Some of them do have some immunity to some of the bacteria they have down there, but they are not immune to the really scary and most debiliting types of bacteria that can run rampant in their areas that lack proper sanitation. Adios, cappy, and remember to pay your "protection money" to the numerous murderous cartels you will be supporting.

James    
Texas  |  January, 16, 2013 at 08:03 AM

Yes, you got it right. All those signs I see in restrooms telling employees to wash their hands prior to returning to work are, without fail in all the places I see them, above the sink. They should be above the urinal in men's rooms and on the opposing wall or door of stalls for standard toilets. Putting the sign where it will be seen by the person is a very important part of communication which most places, if not all, seem to have a hard time grasping.

Connie    
Michigan  |  January, 20, 2013 at 10:02 AM

I can't imagine down the road we Americans will not be dependent upon other countries for our food--not just oil--IF our WOnderful Gov't does not get out of rules and farming!! It is right that consumers can cantaminate the fruits and veggies at the Market Level. Maybe they need gloves and Hairnets like we all wear. Also the Truckers that move the Products-- It is IMPOSSIBLE to net in fields of 100's of acres.

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