Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Food Safety Modernization Act - Trojan Horse?

I'm being told that H.R. 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act, is not going to pass. I shouldn't worry about it. Apparently the bill that has the best chance of passing is H.R. 759, The Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act. It is in committee now. It is much harder to get a handle on. Much of it is written as amendments to Title 21 of Federal Code. That makes it pretty tough for a non-lawyer like me to wade through it and figure out what it means. There is a section dealing with Safety Standards for Fresh Produce that makes me think small farmers who "process" produce on farm should be concerned with this bill as well.

Here is the text of that section.


(a) PROHIBITED ACT.—Section 301 (21 U.S.C. 331), as amended by sections 102 and 103, is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘‘(pp) The production or harvesting of produce not in accordance with minimum standards as provided by regulation under section 419A(a) or a variance issued under section 419A(e).’’.

(b) STANDARDS.—Chapter IV (21 U.S.C. 341 et seq.), as amended by sections 102 and 103, is amended by adding at the end the following:


‘‘(a) STANDARDS.—The Secretary shall establish by regulation science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities for which the Secretary has determined that such standards minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death.

‘‘(b) CONTENTS.—The regulations under subsection

(a)—‘‘(1) shall set forth such procedures, processes, and practices as the Secretary determines to be reasonably necessary—‘‘(A) to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable biological, chemical,

12 and physical hazards, including hazards that

13 occur naturally, may be unintentionally intro14

duced, or may be intentionally introduced, in15

cluding by acts of terrorism, into fruits and

16 vegetables that are raw agricultural commod17

ities; and ‘‘(B) to provide reasonable assurances that the produce is not adulterated under section 402;

‘‘(2) shall include, with respect to growing, harvesting, packing, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards for safety;

‘‘(3) shall include standards addressing manure use, water quality, employee hygiene, sanitation and animal control, temperature controls, and nutrients; ‘‘(4) may include standards for such other elements as the Secretary determines necessary to carry out subsection (a);

‘‘(5) shall provide a reasonable period of time for compliance, taking into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply; and ‘‘(6) shall provide for coordination of education and enforcement activities by State and local officials, as designated by the Governors of the respective States.

‘‘(c) PRIORITIZATION.—The Secretary shall prioritize the implementation the regulations under subsection (a) for specific fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities and have been associated with food-borne illness outbreaks. ‘‘(d) ENFORCEMENT.—The Secretary may coordinate with the Secretary of Agriculture and shall contract and coordinate with the agency or department designated by the Governor of each State to perform activities to ensure compliance with this section.’’.

I'll keep working my way through this as best I can and as time allows. I'd appreciate feedback from others who have looked at it from a small farm perspective.
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