Food Safety – Not as Simple as it Sounds

The unfortunate truth is that safety in the food industry supply chain still has a long way to go. No one likes burdensome regulations, but it’s hard to argue against them when we hear about blunders such as these:

  • The Associated Press reported that Foster Farms, a California chicken farm was closed Jan. 8 when inspectors found cockroaches on five separate occasions in various parts of the plant over four months. The company says no chicken product was affected.
  • A release posted on Reuters stated that New Zeeland’s Fonterra announced on Jan. 13 a recall of products that had been contaminated with E.Coli. It affected 8,700 bottles of fresh cream marketed under their Anchor brand. There have been no reports of illnesses so far.
  • The Associated Press reported Northern California’s Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, Calif. recalled 40,000 pounds of meat products because it was produced without a full federal inspection. As of now, there are no reports of illnesses.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced back in January of 2013 its proposed new food supply chain safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). After considerable input from food producers and consumer advocates,  the FDA’s most recent statement Dec. 19, 2013 indicates that it expects to issue revised rules next summer. Although they might show a retreat from some of the most stringent provisions of the FDA’s first proposals, the final rules are likely to require significant changes in how we bring food from the farm to the table.

I believe that unless the food industry self regulates and builds lot-control chain of custody processes like the pharmaceutical industry’s, greater regulation of the food supply chains is very likely.

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