The Senate passing of The Food Safety Modernization Act on Nov. 30 brings the United States one step closer to finally passing the first sweeping reform of its kind since the 1930s. The bill would bring about expanded recall authority for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), increased responsibility for food manufacturers and farmers to safeguard the production of food, and regulations for imported foods.
Hurdles remain, but if passed into law, would the Senate's sweeping food safety bill, S.510, be a positive or negative for the natural and organic products industry? NewHope360.com asked around to find out.
Organic Trade Association
“We’ve worked on this from day one and we are happy with anything that strengthens food safety. Our biggest concern was that there not be duplication of effort; because of NOP the organic industry is already doing a lot of things proposed in the bill like farm inspections and tracebacks, we asked for reciprocity between NOP and the new USDA requirements for organic producers. We are happy with the bill at this time.”
—Christine Bushway, executive director, Organic Trade Association
“Annie’s applauds efforts to protect consumers and help maintain consumers’ trust in their food. We are also pleased the legislation includes provisions for small, local farms and producers. This legislation provides an additional level oversight for all manufactures and processors. “
—John Foraker, chief executive officer, Annie’s
Council for Responsible Nutrition
“CRN is pleased that the Senate today passed S. 510, FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FDAFSMA). CRN and its member companies support this bill because of the added enforcement tools it would provide to FDA and the extra protections it would provide for consumers.
“The dietary supplement industry, which is regulated as a category of food under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), is committed to supporting efforts that will help ensure consumers have access to safe and high-quality dietary supplement products. It is imperative that FDA has the tools it needs to help protect our nation’s food supply, including dietary supplements. This bill is critical.”
—Steve Mister, president and CEO, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)
“Earthbound Farm certainly supports the spirit of the food safety bill as it just passed the Senate, especially as it concerns requiring food production facilities to assess the food safety risks specific to their operation and then put measures in place to mitigate those risks. That’s something that any type of operation can do, understanding that the risks are different for different operations and different products. However, as is often the case, private industry can (and should) move faster than the government and at Earthbound Farm we’ve put in place the most rigorous food safety protocols in our industry, including pathogen testing at two levels: raw product and finished goods. Based on our risk assessment of our operation, because people are consuming our value-added salads raw, without cooking, the testing is crucial for us and our distribution model.
While this benefit isn’t specific to the natural products industry and we’ll certainly have to see where the rule-making takes us, I think a strong benefit of this legislation is the focus it will bring to the importance of food safety and that all food producers grasp how important it is to do a thorough food safety risk assessment and then implement measure to mitigate those risks – much of which can be simple steps.
—Will Daniels, senior vice president of operations and organic integrity, Earthbound Farm.
“It was a mixed bag. I was surprised at the groups for it and surprised that were against it. Overall I feel pretty good about what we got, but I am surprised about the internal bickering. Most of our employees and customers are completely clueless [about the legislation], we didn’t do much at a grassroots level in the industry this time in terms of education. When they give us a final synopsis of it we will post it and give it out to customers.”
—Cheryl Hughes, owner, Whole Wheatery
National Bison Association
Overall the bill is going to be helpful in addressing the concerns people have with the food system and the issues we’ve seen over the past few years. The Senate version of the bill addresses in a way that won’t put a lot of undue burden on the small farmers. From Wyoming senator Enzi did not put bison folks on double-duty—if you’re already under USDA regulations, you won’t have to have dual oversite with the FDA. Most producers want to deal with one agency.”
—Dave Carter, executive director, National Bison Association
“This bill may be a step in the right direction but it's a very small step. We still have unsanitary factory feedlots, overcrowded poultry and hog farms which are breeding grounds for pathogens. We still have pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that run off and find their way into groundwater and end up in our food supply as chemical residues. We still have unlabeled GMO produce which hasn't been properly tested for short and long term health effects. And unregulated nanotechnology is already upon us before it is understood enough to establish safety protocols. If we want to get to the source of these safety problems there's a lot more work to be done in the public interest.”
—Ken Whitman, president, Peter Gilham’s Natural Vitality
Aurora Organic Dairy
“At Aurora Organic Dairy, we’ve always made food safety and quality a top priority. Because we own our farms and our processing plant, we manage the entire fluid milk process – from cow to carton. Therefore, we believe the Food Safety legislation passed by the Senate this week is definitely a step in the right direction to protect consumers’ interests, and to improve the safety and quality of the food supply. It is our hope that this becomes the foundation upon which a better food safety system can be built in the U.S.”
—Peggy Colfelt, quality director, Aurora Organic Dairy