Food Safety Stakes Higher Than Ever for Processors
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's thrust behind the Food Safety Modernization Act and its "war on pathogens" has raised the level of risk for companies that make food products that can make people sick.
Shawn Stevens, a food industry consultant and attorney who represents processors in food safety litigation — and a blogger for Meatingplace — says that, as companies like the Peanut Corporation of America already have discovered, the FDA can hold them criminally liable if consumers get sick from eating their products.
A misdemeanor charge does not require intent like a felony would. That is, a company does not have to know that it has shipped a product that is making people sick. It just has to have been aware of a condition that could result in illness and have had done nothing to prevent the problem. Each count can carry up to a year in prison or up to a $250,000 fine.
So, whereas companies were once only exposed to civil and regulatory penalties, they now also are exposed to criminal penalties.
Among the most important things that Stevens listed for processors to do ahead of an FDA visit was to conduct their own microbiological profiling during production to get a clear picture of problem areas and correct them.
That's your Land and Livestock Report-I'm Russell Nemetz.