Good Fruit Grower

October 2015

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12 OCTOBER 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER But new laws create liability, lawyers say. by Richard Lehnert T he coming of the Food Safety Modernization Act is causing some fear and trepidation among produce growers—with good reason. While Food and Drug Administration offi- cials have been making the rounds, talking to growers and trying to soothe fears, the lawyers will tell you any new law creates new kinds of liabilities that can cost you in fines or even prison time. The coming together of officials and lawyers hap- pened during the U.S. Apple Association's annual Outlook Conference in Chicago in August. Roberta Wagner, the key FDA administrator working on implementation of the new FSMA rules (supposed to be final October 31), said the agency is not interested in evidence-gathering and does not intend to apply heavy- handed enforcement actions, but wants to work with industry players, from growers up through the chain, to assure a high level of voluntary compliance. "That model is gone," she said of the usual inspection-and-penalty FDA process. "We plan to educate before we regulate," she said. There will be a long period of outreach and education by the agency and, for some smaller producers, the new rules won't be fully effective until 2022. But the lawyer was there, too. Christian Nemeth warned growers that new statutes create liability. Failure to comply with statutes can, in litigation, be cited as evidence to demonstrate a higher level of negligence worthy of greater civil penalties, as well as criminal ones. As is often said, "ignorance of the law is no excuse," and it's easier to mount a defense when the law is vague or non-existent. FDA's plan Wagner, who is associate director for FSMA oper- ations, has been with FDA for 26 years. While she emphasized that FDA wants to work with the industry, she sees foodborne diseases as a major problem and the FSMA as a huge step to reduce them. Some 48 million people, one in six, get sick every year from foodborne dis- eases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is a significant public health burden that is largely preventable," FDA says. The new law strengthens the food safety system by seeking to prevent problems rather than merely reacting to them. Wagner talked about the timetable. In the past two years, FDA has proposed seven rules to implement preventive and risk-based standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, processing, and distribution of domestic and imported food for people and animals, FDA will educate before they regulate 2921 Sutherland Park Drive Yakima, Wa 98903 509-248-0318 FAX: 509-248-0914 • Not all fan blades are created equal! Discover the CHINOOK FAN BLADE ADVANTAGE! 2921 Sutherland Park Drive Yakima, Wa 98903 H.F. HAUFF COMPANY INC. FORD TRITON V-10 or IVECO NEF 6.7 DIESEL ★ Air Flow Starts 14 inches from Hub ★ Increased Radius Coverage by 80-150 Feet with Same HP Draw ★ Wider Sector Angle with Increased Air Velocity ★ LESS FUEL CONSUMPTION Superior Coverage Judge for yourself Satisfaction Guaranteed!

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