The wheels of food safety turn slowly

If it weren’t for all the noise coming out of Washington, D.C. for the past month about the fiscal cliff and now the debt ceiling, an important development regarding the life and death issue of food safety might have received more attention.

The Food and Drug Administration has released proposed rules for public comment regarding the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act two years after President Obama signed the landmark legislation. Trade group’s who are often at odds with what are viewed as anti-business policies of a liberal administration were quick to heap praise on the Obama administration and FDA for publishing new regulations industry played a role in crafting. Under most circumstances, business groups recoil at the prospect of regulation, but the newly published rules as seen as a good thing because they create a clearer food regulation framework that will enhance safety while simplify the compliance process for food retailers and suppliers.
"Today's food production and processing systems require more ‘interdependence’ from multiple stakeholder groups than ever before," according to a group known as the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) that is part of the Consumer Goods Forum. "Therefore, we applaud FDA’s collaborative efforts to harmonize global food safety standards, further strengthen the safety of food sourced outside of the U.S. and evaluate the role of private certifications for a 21st century regulatory framework."

The Consumer Goods Forum annually hosts a global food safety conference and its GFSI group is composed of hundreds of members including food retailers, growers, manufacturers and food service companies in more than 150 countries.

Another group with a huge stake in the food safety issue is the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Pam Bailey, president and CEO of the group, said she applauded the Obama administration and FDA for releasing the first two sets of proposed regulations for public comment. The two sets are related to preventive controls and produce safety.

"The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law by President Obama two years ago today is a landmark piece of legislation that represents the most comprehensive reform of our nation’s food safety laws and regulations in more than seventy years," Bailey said. "FSMA ensures that prevention is the cornerstone of our nation’s food safety strategy. It places new responsibilities on food and beverage manufacturers and provides the FDA with the resources and authorities it needs to further strengthen our nation’s food safety net."

It’s worth noting that the rules are only proposed at this point and nothing is final until the public comment period is concluded and the rule are formally in place. More details on the proposed regulations and how to comment are available by clicking here.