Safety Zone
By: James Marsden

Will the Waxman Food Safety Bill make Food Safer?

Source of Article:www.meatingplace.com

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

 

On June 3, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce held hearings on the proposed Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (http://tinyurl.com/pzwfec ). Most of the provisions are well-meaning and the bill would give FDA additional resources and authorities it needs to monitor the food industry. Margaret A. Hamburg, the new FDA commissioner, called the legislation ďa major step in the right direction,Ē but stated that her agency will need more money to carry it out (http://tinyurl.com/r237lg ).

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to help FDA better ensure the safety of the nationís food supply. Some of the provisions include required registration of all domestic and import food processing facilities and a $1,000 annual fee to help offset the costs of FDA inspections and recalls. It also provides for preventative food safety plans for imported foods and fresh produce, increased microbiological testing and improved traceability for all food products.

The question is, will the passage of this bill make food safer for consumers?

The problem with inspection and testing is that neither necessarily results in safer food. In the end, what makes foods safe are validated safe food processes. Of course, that is what HACCP is supposed to provide. Inspection and testing are useful tools to verify safe food processes, but by themselves they do little to make food safe.

Whether the food safety problem is E. coli in fresh spinach, Salmonella in peanut butter or melamine in milk, properly designed and validated HACCP plans should successfully control food safety hazards and provide for safe food products.

The challenge is to assure that all food processing plants operate under validated HACCP plans and have the necessary technologies to control food safety hazards. When that is accomplished, USDA and FDA will actually require fewer inspection resources and less money.Testing will be done only to verify the effectiveness of the food safety systems.

For too many years, we have operated under the assumption that inspection makes food safe. Recently that premise also has included the assumption that increased testing makes food safe. It is impossible to inspect and test all food. It is, however, possible and even cost-effective to produce all food under validated safe food processes, apply continuous monitoring to assure process control and then verify through inspection, testing and record keeping. This approach definitely makes food safer for consumers and eliminates most or all recalls in the process.

 

 

 

 

6/26/2009 11:25 AM 

 

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