Putnam unveiled the newest version of the Safe Food Enforcement, Assessment, Standards and Targeting Act, first introduced in the 2008 congressional session, at the DiMare Fresh-Tampa Inc. tomato repacking operation.
A Putnam aide said the bill contains new provisions, including enhanced traceback and recordkeeping. Other parts of the bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., include strengthened sections following the peanut foodborne illness outbreak and the 2008 salmonella outbreak initially blamed on tomatoes.
Other sections establish performance standards, accredit qualified overseas third party auditors, allow for the Food and Drug Administration to hold adulterated foods and direct federal authorities to deal with intentional adulteration at high-risk points in the food supply chain.
Florida produce industry representatives from Maitland-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and the Florida Tomato Exchange were in attendance.
Mike Stuart, FFVA’s president, said Putnam in recent years has shown a strong interest in helping move produce food safety forward on a national basis.
“This is the next logical step in that process,” Stuart said. “It’s a comprehensive approach in dealing with the food safety issue and one that provides a risk-based focused approach in dealing with the issue.”
Stuart said the reforms would also help the FDA deal with food safety issues more effectively and avoid problems associated with other food safety investigations.
Putnam isn’t seeking another congressional term after his current term ends Jan. 2011. The four-term Bartow, Fla., native on Feb. 18 entered the race for Florida agriculture commissioner.