An Aug. 12 food safety panel looked at the issue from several angles, including traceability, new regulations and how to use food safety messages in interacting with consumers.
Dan’l Mackey Almy, president of DMA Solutions, Dallas, said food safety programs are customized best practices, and they provide opportunities for companies to differentiate themselves. But, she said, avoid playing those against competitors’ programs, which can confuse buyers.
“I think it’s a slippery slope, for us going down” Mackey Almy said. “ … You don’t want to walk into a retail place and feel it is less safe than another one.”
Deputy Texas Agriculture Commissioner Drew DeBerry, who moderated the panel, said the state has paid more than $500,000 on food safety programs since 2007, including training programs through the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
One in seven jobs in Texas is agricultural related, he said.
“There’s a reason Texas is involved in so many national policy debates,” DeBerry said.
McClung said that although food safety is a pressing concern for Texas growers and shippers, the Rio Grande Valley’s proximity to Mexico makes immigration issues important. The availability of labor, and escalating drug-related violence in Mexico’s border states, was a common theme of conversation at the convention.
“Immigration reform remains an issue of great interest to us, and border security remains an issue,” McClung said. “As you know, about 60% of what Texas sells to the rest of the country is Mexican imports not, so the situation in Mexico is of ongoing interest to us.”