What is in this article?:
- FDA proposes new food safety rules
- Putting the rules into action
Measures could impact the quality of food supplied to restaurants
Putting the rules into action
Once the final rules are entered into the Federal Registry, large food manufacturers will have a year to comply and large growers up to 26 months to fall in line, while smaller companies may be granted longer compliance deadlines.
Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at public-advocacy group Consumers Union, said her group looks forward to analyzing the proposed rules “that really go to the heart of the problems we’ve had with food safety in recent years.”
“The produce rule should take aim at serious problems like the 2006 outbreak of E. coli in spinach, which caused several deaths,” Halloran said. “The ‘preventive control’ rule [for manufacturers] should help put a stop to incidents like the salmonella outbreaks at the Peanut Corporation of America in 2009, which killed nine people, and the Sunland plant last year, which left hundreds of people sick.”
But at least one food-safety advocate and foodborne illness litigator, Seattle attorney Bill Marler, questioned whether the rules alone will achieve the goal of safer food for restaurants.
“Clearly, for restaurants that are buying fresh produce, conceptually, this should make it less of a risky product,” Marler said of the proposed grower rules. “My difficulty with the rules is that ultimately they require an enforcement mechanism, [and] that is a manpower issue.”
Marler said he believes that the current system for most non-meat food inspections that often rely on third-party audits of fields or facilities has not worked well, as was evident by recent deadly outbreaks of peanuts and cantaloupes, among others, in which the producers had received passing audit scores before the problems erupted.
“In the outbreaks I’ve been involved with, 90 percent of the time there has never been an FDA inspector in the plant or, if there has been, it was five years ago. That simply is not adequate,” Marler said.
The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act and the new rules “gives us the opportunity to rethink how you spend inspection dollars and how you do inspections,” added Marler, who said his public comments about the new rules will include advocacy for a stronger system of federal and state inspectors instead of increasing reliance on private-sector inspectors paid for by business and ultimately consumers, through finished goods pricing.
Contact Alan J. Liddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter: @AJ_NRN