New Food Safety Regulations Will Impact Us on the Farm

On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This legislation gives FDA new responsibilities and powers in the prevention of food safety risks to American consumers.

I’m sure few of the readers of this blog gave much notice to the signing of this new legislation. However, the impact will be felt by all of us in coming months and years as the legislation gets enacted.

A basic component of this legislation that will have the most immediate impact is the requirement that all food, feed, ingredient and pet food facilities develop plans to identify and control food/feed safety hazards. All of the feed ingredient suppliers to our industry are beginning this process of identification and control.

The good news of this process is that implementation of the identification and control process reduces the risk of food safety issues such as the dioxin introduction into pig feed in Germany a few years ago. The total ban on sales of pigs to slaughter and associated feed recalls affected a very large segment of the German pork industry. Closer to home we only have to look at the melamine issue in products from China as another example of what FSMA is trying to prevent.

The bad news is this process will require a huge investment of time and talent on the part of all ingredient suppliers and blenders in our industry. It also means lots of paper work and potential fines for failure to maintain the paper work trail.

I don’t know how deep into the US livestock feed manufacturing industry these regulations will go, but I think we all need to be aware that the expectations of a safe food supply to the US consumer is serious business and FSMA is but one piece of on-going regulatory burdens that consumers are expecting us to assume to meet this expectation. We can expect to see increased emphasis in the regulatory arena on prevention of contamination versus responding to contamination.

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