- The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)’s water testing standards may be extended past the compliance date for the Produce Safety Rule due to industry opposition, currently set as January 2018, according to Food Safety News.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told produce leaders the standards are currently under review with a likely delay in compliance.
- Food and Safety News said the industry also is concerned about packing house regulations that are too vague. They also want better guidelines as to the rules that apply to each operation.
The FDA has estimated these changes could decrease foodborne illnesses associated with produce by 20%, resulting in $477 million in savings. While a delay would save the industry money by delaying when they need to comply, it might also make more people susceptible to getting sick.
Last year, a hepatitis A outbreak from contaminated frozen strawberries imported from Egypt sickened at least 44 people. It's the latest outbreak to batter the country's food supply. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said between 2004 and 2013, fresh produce, such as cilantro, cucumbers, cantaloupes and peppers, were responsible for 629 outbreaks and almost 20,000 illnesses.
The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, enables the FDA to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. It has taken longer than many expected for the measures to be put into place, and it appears that industry concerns over water testing could delay a portion of the rule relating to produce for a while longer. The food industry will likely have to agree to eventually implement them, especially if another major recall hits produce, sparking an outcry from already agitated consumer groups. Even though the U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world, unfortunately it's not an "if" another big recall occurs, but when.