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The United States Senate gave its approval to a food safety bill, commonly known as “The Food Safety Modernization Act”, last week. The bill has to be reconciled with a similar one that passed the House over a year ago before the President will have anything to sign and the country will, in fact, have a law that specifically addresses food safety. Now, whether the implementation of said bill will actually ensure food safety is another thing altogether…
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been in existence for over 100 years — it actually predates the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 — and was begun mainly in response to the proliferation of patent medicines and the often dubious claims people made of them. Food safety was first addressed by the passage of the Meat Inspection Act, which fell under the jurisdiction of the USDA.
Some kind of food safety regulation has been around for more than a century. Yet, while passing various health and food safety legislation for decades, Congress hasn’t actually done much to ensure our protection. They often assign enforcement of food safety laws to the FDA or USDA but the FDA, in particular, has been rendered toothless — ineffective — in recent history as funding for qualified personnel, training, research, and testing have dried up. This typically has the effect of passing the burden (i.e., expense) of ensuring safety on to other parties, such as the consumer. (Don’t believe me? Read the labels on the entrees and side dishes in your freezer.)
Furthermore, food safety standards that are more universal in nature — after all, we’re dealing with a global food supply chain — have been in existence for decades. HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) plans –not developed by or for the FDA, incidentally — have been commonplace for nearly forty years because they work!
Food businesses and other organizations (like ISO) have developed a number of easily implemented and universally applicable standards for reducing risks associated with growing, storing, processing, transporting, and consumption of food. ISO 22000 for food safety management systems was released in September, 2005. A complimentary standard, PAS 220 (designed to tighten specifications for food processors’ prerequisite programs, or PRP), was released three years later.
What’s my point? One, that we can’t bank on legislation alone to ensure the safety of the food we consume. The food industry appears to be well ahead of any legislative efforts.
Two, that wherever your company is located in the food supply chain, there are universal standards you can comply with that will ensure the safety of your product no matter where you and your customer are located. Complying with ISO 22000, PAS 220, and similar standards will greatly increase the likelihood that you’re compliant with whatever food safety legislation exists in any locale.
To help you further, Bizmanualz offers its “ISO 22000 FSMS Policies, Procedures, and Forms” manual — one that enables your company to ensure food safety and comply with ISO 22000 requirements with relatively little cost or effort on your part.
So, back to the original question: Is the world safer thanks to regulations like the Food Safety Modernization Act? Do you think more is needed? Or, to put it another way…
What ISN’T being done to ensure food safety?