Looking at Food Safety Concerns

Looking at Food Safety Concerns

Looking at Food Safety Concerns. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.
Most people will agree that the nation’s food safety system needs a serious tune up.  The debate in congress is about the best way to do that.  At a recent House Agriculture Committee hearing, North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten testified about concerns with one possibility, called the Food Safety Enhancement Act.

WOOTEN: There is concern that too many new standards will unnecessarily complicate the marketplace without increasing the overall safety of the food supply.  While we understand the need for continuous food safety improvement, the farm-level impact on producers must be considered in any new initiatives.

That bill would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate on-farm production activities. Wooten explained that the FDA is not qualified for that job.

WOOTEN: FDA does not have the personnel, funding, expertise or time to regulate agricultural production practices.   

Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte voiced concerns about the bill.

GOODLATTE: It is unfortunate that the legislation passed out by the energy and commerce committee, H.R. 2749, the food safety enhancement act of 2009, does so little to enhance food safety.  Most observers agree that to improve food safety we must focus on preventing contamination and cross contamination during food processing and preparation.  However it appears that the overwhelming majority of this bill seems to misdirect the attention of the regulatory agency to reacting after a foodborne illness outbreak and punishing those who may or may not have anything to do with it. 

Wooten talks about more provisions in the legislation that would have a negative impact on farmers and ranchers.

WOOTEN: Despite substantial and significant progress from the legislation’s original discussion draft, unresolved issues that could increase cost and paperwork burdens on farmers and ranchers remain.  As approved by the full committee on June 17, H.R. 2749 would significantly expand authorities for FDA to regulate and oversee on-farm production activities.  Farms are explicitly included in extensive new recordkeeping, reporting and traceability measures which may not be feasible or practical for many of our producers. 

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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