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Experts comment on Food Safety Modernization Act

Santa Clara, CA, US: Industry experts comment on the US Food and Drug Administration’s first proposals for review under the Food Safety Modernization Act in Intelleflex’s latest Points of View.This edition of Point of View on Produce asks experts from the legal, academic and business communities how the the Food Safety Modernization Act will affect the industry.

The report authors are:

  • Jennifer McEntire, Sr. Director, Food & Import Safety, Leavitt Partners (co-author of the recent IFT Report on the FSMA traceability pilots)
  • Melissa Germaine, Associate Director Cold Chain Research at Georgia Tech
  • Dr John Ryan, Food Safety and Quality Expert at Ryan Systems

Intelleflex asks industry experts their point-of-view on cold chain issues – March 2013

What is your reaction to the proposed rules recently published for the FSMA and their potential impact on growers and grocery retailers?

Jennifer McEntire, PhD, Sr Director, Food & Import Safety, Leavitt Partners
After much anticipation, it’s nice to finally see where the FDA is headed and what they expect of industry. With so many exemptions, we’ll need to see which growers wind up being subject to the Produce Safety Rule. With these grower exemptions, retailers may shoulder more responsibility and need increased supply chain visibility to ensure that produce is being grown with food safety in mind. FSMA is not going to protect companies against the brand risk they face everyday. Hopefully, the risk of food-borne illness to consumers will decrease, but this will not happen overnight, and each company still needs to evaluate and manage supply chain risks, because plaintiffs’ attorneys don’t care that the rules are not yet final.

Melissa Germain, Associate Director Cold Chain Research at Georgia Tech and Director of the Academic Cold Chain Forum
The FSMA created legislation that outlined practices the industry should have been doing anyway. It has always been, and will always be, in the best interest of the food industry to ensure food safety. No one benefits from food recalls and food borne illness outbreaks. For example, in 1998 tomatoes were initially linked to Salmonella outbreaks. Later it was determined that other products such as peppers from Mexico were the culprit. But it was too late. U.S. and imported tomato growers lost significant business. The act rewards companies and growers who have always had food safety as their first priority while giving others more of a regulator push to do the right thing. The entire industry can benefit by maintaining consumer confidence.

Dr John Ryan, President, Ryan Systems
Based on bio-contaminant and pesticide levels normally found on farms, the proposed FSMA rules are extremely lax and insufficient. There is ample evidence that has gone unreported by the FDA regarding high levels of contaminants that are allowed to move through the supply chain to retailers and consumers. There is a lack of FDA supported development for high speed, low cost testing technology. With no FSMA, established traceability rules, recall requirements and the concept of preventive planning are insufficient at best. Kevin Payne, Senior Director of Marketing, Intelleflex Initial feedback on the proposed FSMA rules seems to be positive, but there appear to be gaps or undefined  areas relating to temperature-sensitive goods and traceability requirements for the cold chain. Retailers, in particular, need to realize that, even though most of the rules don’t apply directly to them, they still have an implied responsibility to their shoppers to ensure the quality and safety of the foods they sell.

Click to read previous Points of View