N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the release today of long-awaited federal food safety rules represents an opportunity for farmers, packers, food companies, government and the public to work together to improve food safety in America.
The proposed rules announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration emphasize measures that farmers and produce packers should take to prevent the contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rules also include preventive measures for the manufacturing of food products.
“The Food Safety Modernization Act and these rules represent a significant step forward in protecting the American public by focusing on prevention,” said Troxler, who is also serving as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. “Within agriculture and the farming community, we want to provide a safe product and work collaboratively with the FDA to address any food safety issues to better protect public health. We have seen first-hand the effects of national recalls on consumer confidence and the great economic damage to the farming community.”
Now that the rules are available for public comment, Troxler said it is important that farmers, packers and food manufacturers scrutinize them and take time to offer feedback. “Input from the industry and the public will be essential to ensuring that FDA gets these rules right,” he said.
North Carolina was the first state to hold listening sessions as FDA was developing the proposed rules. “We commend the FDA for investing a lot of time in listening to state officials and growers across the country,” Troxler said.“Their approach serves as a model for how to create the kind of partnerships we all strive for – federal, state and local governments working together.”
Troxler said partnership and education will be critical as FDA moves forward with food safety rules.
“We look forward to working with the FDA on a new approach to educate farmers about the rules,” he said. “This will be done through the Produce Safety Alliance and through a pilot program that North Carolina and other states are developing with FDA to assist farmers in understanding the requirements of the new produce rule.”
Information about the rules can be accessed online at http://www.fda.gov/fsma.
About the Food Safety Modernization Act
The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Jan. 4, 2011. According to FDA, the law aims “to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.”