Karst chat: Bob Whitaker of PMA

03/04/2011 09:43:04 AM

I would say if you can explain to an audience – I don’t care where they are, here or overseas – that this is why you need to do this, you can make a valid argument about their responsibilities to produce safe food and what it means to people, growers by and large will always do the right thing. Growers are extremely inventive and innovative and so you might tell this is what you should be thinking of doing, and then it is amazing to see them figure out how to do it and do it really well. That is one of my messages to these folks when I talk to them is because to make food safety work, it has to be personal. You have to take responsibility.

Nobody knows your operation the way you do. It is one thing for a buying group to come in and say we want to see all these things but frankly they don’t know your operation just like you don’t know theirs. If you are going to have a good food safety program, it’s got to be personal. I have witnessed over the years that I have been doing this that growers will do it. It may take time, but they will get there.

3:13 p.m. Karst: As you look ahead to the next year or two, what are a few unanswered questions in your mind about what the FDA’s produce safety regulation might look like?

3:`14 p.m. Whitaker: Right now it is early to tell because there is nothing specific to put your teeth into until we start seeing some draft rules. I would think that right now what will be intriguing for me to see, first and foremost is the difference between import and domestic production. Right now it seems we are set up to consider using third party certification offshore. There is definitely talk about accrediting laboratories that might be able to do testing and that sort of thing so we can expedite product entry.


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