Good Fruit Grower

October 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 39

Looking for common ground Growers have until mid-November to submit comments on the FDA's proposed food safety regulations. by Geraldine Warner Mike Taylor of the FDA tells growers that the agency's food regulations are designed to ensure food safety and protect the produce industry. Scan the QR code at left to watch a video of his talk or visit M incredible diversity of agriculture across the country. The process will be hugely influenced by the people who can show us what's happening on the ground and provide alternatives to what we've proposed." Where a proposed rule seems unworkable, and there are alternative ways to accomplish the objective, state governments can apply on behalf of producers for a variance to the rules. There's also the option for individual growers to use alternative practices to those laid out in the rules if they can back them up with scientific data. Growers would not have to submit the data to the FDA for approval in advance, but would need to make it available upon request. ore food safety regulations are going to be a tough pill to swallow for tree fruit growers, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials say it's for their own good. The FDA is charged with implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 2011, and is proposNot typical ing standards governing how produce is The final requirements will be effecgrown, harvested, packed, and stored. tive 60 days after they are published in the "In my mind, it had a dual purpose of Federal Register, but growers will have ensuring food safety and protecting the two to four years to comply, depending food production system," Mike Taylor, on the size of their operation. Small growthe FDA's deputy commissioner for foods ers, with annual gross sales averaging less and veterinary medicine, said during a than $25,000 are exempt. Farms grossing listening session in Yakima, Washington, less than $500,000 on average and those this summer. who sell most of their produce directly to Outbreaks of illness disrupt the food consumers are exempt from some of the system, reduce demand for implicated rules. products, and result in a loss of consumer —Mike Taylor "We've been making it very clear confidence, he said. that it's not a typical regulatory system where we issue "We have common goals around food safety and the a rule and go out and inspect," Taylor said. "Instead, protection of the food supply. The last thing we want is what we envision is a model where we collaborate with for consumers to buy less fruits and vegetables based on our state partners and take an approach based on outany concern about safety. We want people to eat more reach, guidance, and technical assistance to support the fruits and vegetables." community. In a world where people are increasingly detached State Representative Bruce Chandler from Washingfrom agriculture and know less about where their food ton's 15th District told the listening session that growers comes from, people need more assurances that their have been increasingly subjected to food safety inspecfood is safe, he said. "It's about providing the public the tions, audits, and certifications required by their suppliassurances they need, and so we need to work together ers, who appear to be using them as a marketing tool. to do that." It takes an enormous amount of time, and the producer Taylor said Congress did a good job in laying out the bears the costs. He hoped the FDA rules might become a direction the FDA should take, but the agency has many standard that would relieve growers of the repetition and decisions to make in terms of how to implement the redundancy of other food safety programs. law so it works across all food systems. He and a team The FDA has also issued a proposed rule for prevenof FDA officials travelled to the Northwest in August to tive controls for human food, which covers facilities that visit fruit and vegetable growers in Idaho, Oregon, and process or pack produce. Washington, and to hold listening sessions. The Food Safety Modernization Act covers imported Risk produce as well as food produced in the United States. The tree fruit industry has been lobbying since the In July, the FDA issued its proposed regulations on the law was passed for the regulations to reflect the relaaccountability and certification of exports, which are tive risk of the various types of produce it covers, pointopen for comment until November 26. ing out that a crop grown in trees should be at less risk Taylor said under the law, imported food must have of contamination than a crop like spinach. been produced under the same standards as domestiWhen the FDA released its proposed regulations, cally produced food, and it requires that every importer which amount to several hundred pages, no such have a documented system for verifying that. distinctions were made. Deborah Carter, technical issues manager for the The agency has been accepting comments since the Northwest Horticultural Council, said that though the regulations were issued in January and has extended the listening session gave people an opportunity to tell the comment period through mid-November. The agency FDA face-to-face how the regulations will affect them, it's will then deliberate for about 18 months before issuing critical that growers submit written comments in order the final regulations. to affect the final rule. "As we try to come up with rules that work for all For more information about the proposed regulaof agriculture across the country, it's critical that we tions or to submit comments, go to see it firsthand," Taylor said. "We're dealing with an GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm.   "It's about providing the public the assurances they need." • 12 OCTOBER 2013 Good Fruit Grower

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - October 2013