One New York wholesaler/importer asked if he would be responsible for the food safety certification of his Chinese garlic supplier. No firm answer, of course, since the FDA has yet to issue its proposed rule for foreign supplier verification.
At this point, the likely answer is yes, Stenzel said. The legal liability will fall on the importer of record.
Another audience member asked why an FDA official recently called for more comments on the produce safety rule.
With the deadline for comments now pushed back until September, Stenzel assured the questioner that the industry — and consumer groups — will have no lack of comments when the deadline comes. Consumer and trade groups are also waiting on other food safety rules to be published before they weigh in.
One hopes that United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association will consult with each other about the produce safety comments that are filed by the respective groups.
To make a finer point, what good would it be to have disagreement between the two national trade associations about food safety rules? If there is a lack of harmony, the FDA could discount the industry’s position entirely.
But if United Fresh and PMA harmonize their comments before the FDA deadline for input, what is the point of having separate food safety staffs and volunteer councils?
As much as the strong showing of United Fresh at San Diego put the talk of a merger with PMA 1,000 miles in the rear-view mirror, the redundancy of the two organizations on the issue of food safety industry input to government agencies is still an issue to be addressed going forward.
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