The proposed Safe Food Act of 2015, Part II

The proposed Safe Food Act of 2015, Part II

LAST MONTH, we introduced the topic of the proposed Safe Food Act (SFA) of 2015. The legislation, a move to merge the nation’s 15 food-safety agencies into one massive new agency, has been filed in Congress for the fifth time. This month, we’ll share why the bill likely won’t get anywhere — again.

For review, the SFA would, among other things:

• Transfer and consolidate food safety authorities for inspections, enforcement, and labeling into a single agency, the Food Safety Administration.
• Provide authority to require the recall of unsafe food.
• Improve foreign food import inspections.
• Require full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks.

Despite the fragmentation and inefficiencies in the current U.S. food-safety system, the bandwagon for SFA has very few riders in Washington. For one reason, the money just isn’t there. President Obama has proposed his own food-safety overhaul plan, but it’s not nearly as detailed as the SFA.

Another hurdle to the SFA is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2010, the largest expansion of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food-safety regulatory authority since 1938. The FDA and all the industries it regulates are still adjusting to the FSMA — at great expense to everyone. The FSMA requires the FDA to undertake more than a dozen rulemakings and issue at least 10 guidance documents, as well as issue a host of reports, plans, strategies, etc. — all of which are still in progress. Leading commodity organizations want nothing to do with the SFA or the president’s food-safety plan as long as their members are still wrestling with the FSMA.

There’s also the matter of the SFA’s food-traceability function. The idea is to give regulators the ability to trace all foods back to their source. Full implementation would come only at major expense to all farmers, growers, and ranchers. The Doles and ConAgras of the world likely can spread this expense, but small farmers cannot. Simply put, the SFA could put them out of business.

This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage LLC.

CREDIT

column by BEN ADAMS JR.

BIO: Ben Adams, Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multi-temperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.