On Wednesday, the Senate invoked cloture to move forward with debate on S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. During debate on the bill, the Senate will consider a provision in the bill that would exempt certain segments of the food industry including food facilities and farm operations from requirements for basic food safety standards.
United Fresh Produce Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther says - the fresh produce industry strongly supports the modernization of federal food safety laws. Unfortunately, the Senate may undermine this effort by including language in the final bill that would exempt certain sectors of the food industry based on geographic location, size of operation and to whom they sell their food products.
Guenther says - supporters of this effort have portrayed these exemptions as protecting small businesses that locally-grown commodities are somehow safer, or that federal government standards are not adequate. He notes - the fact remains that when a food safety incident occurs, farmers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers, regardless of size, suffer significant economic hardships and small and local food operations are not immune based on size of operation, distance of geography or commodity.