CSG Midwest logo

While grain producers across the Midwest have been anxiously awaiting a new farm bill, produce farmers are just as anxious about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act — the largest reform of the nation’s food safety laws in 70 years. The act itself was signed into law in 2011, but exactly how it will impact the Midwest’s producers won’t be known until final FDA rules are approved.

On June 3rd of this year, Connecticut became the first state to pass a law that requires special labeling for foods containing genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs. Maine followed suit a little over a week later, when the state’s senate voted unanimously to require GMO labeling. Both of these laws contain clauses that require other states to pass similar laws before the labeling requirement actually goes into effect. For example, in Connecticut, four other northeastern states need to enact labeling laws, and one of those states needs to border Connecticut before the requirement goes live.  In addition, the combined population of these states needs to be at least 20 million. In Maine, the law won’t go into effect until five other states—one of which must be New Hampshire—pass the same requirements.

Connecticut is the first state to pass a bill to mandate labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that does not require labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Countries that have restrictions or bans on genetically engineered foods include China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and the European Union.

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 made sweeping changes to how America ensures its food supply is safe. What remains to be seen is just how the Food and Drug Administration will enact those changes.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011, represents the most significant revision of food safety laws in the United States in more than 70 years. The legislation carried with it new mandates for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including comprehensive, prevention-based approaches across all aspects of the food supply system.  Such a prevention-based approach will require food facilities to evaluate hazards in their operations and establish procedures to prevent contamination. The law also requires the FDA to establish safety standards for production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables based on science. In addition to enhanced prevention and surveillance tools, the FDA will also have mandatory recall authority for all food products.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011, represents the most significant revision of food safety laws in the United States in more than 70 years. The legislation carried with it new mandates for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including comprehensive, prevention-based approaches across all aspects of the food supply system.  Such a prevention-based approach will require food facilities to evaluate hazards in their operations and establish procedures to prevent contamination. The law also requires the FDA to establish safety standards for production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables based on science. In addition to enhanced prevention and surveillance tools, the FDA will also have mandatory recall authority for all food products.

Governor Martin O'Malley is poised to sign into law the nation's first ban on chicken feed containing trace amounts of arsenic. The legislation would prohibit the use of roxarsone, a drug used to promote growth and combat parasites, from being given to poultry. Proponents of the legislation hailed its passage as a way to improve public health and to help potentially remove arsenic from seeping into the Chesapeake Bay. Those opposed, including the state's poultry industry, say the legislation is unnecessary as the drug's manufacturer -Pfizer- stopped production a year ago and that a full ban could have significant economic consequences for Maryland farmers. 

The U.S. food safety system has developed over a lengthy period, often in response to health concerns or threats. Because of this, the system does not have a coherent, strategic focus, but is a patchwork of legal and regulatory activities that distributes the responsibility for, and information about, food safety across numerous federal, state and local entities.

Establishing a prevention-oriented national food safety system will require investments at all levels, innovative use of existing technology, commitments among partners to share resources and responsibilities across both jurisdictional borders and institutional barriers, and initiatives to boost capacity across the system. Food safety requires an integration of public health, agriculture, the food processing industry, and the research community to achieve a truly seamless system where risks are assessed accurately, mitigated appropriately, monitored thoroughly and outbreaks are responded to effectively.

This SLC Regional Resource examines current practices in regards to food safety, as well as best practices to ensure that foodborne illnesses are reduced to a minimal level.

Some local producers prefer state-level meat inspections to federal inspections; this article explains why and provides a brief overview of the nine state meat-inspection programs in the Midwest.

Rulemaking for a new federal law overhauling the nation's food safety laws will be critical in determining its impact on region's producers. The bill is designed to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and to address some of the problems that came to light as the result of recent tomato, egg and spinach recalls. Its exact impact on states in the Midwest and their food producers won’t be fully known until U.S. Food and Drug Administration rulemaking is complete — a process that the region’s entire agricultural community will be following closely.

Pages