FSMA Delay Has Little Consequence for Leafy Greens
Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will be revising language in the proposed Produce Rule affecting farmers under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). According to Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor, FDA plans to publish a revised version in the Federal Register for public comment by early summer. This second round of public comment, will give everyone the chance to review this important new law again.
Some will no doubt say that any delays in finalizing the law would be irresponsible. But the FDA is being careful in how it is crafting regulatory language to ensure the end result improves public health protections, while minimizing undue burden on farmers and other food producers. The agency wants to be sure it can “get it right” before finalizing the new rules.
For the LGMA, the FDA’s announcement has little consequence. When it comes to the safety of leafy greens, consumers should know that 90 percent of the leafy greens grown in the U.S. are currently being produced under a system of mandatory government oversight to ensure that food safety practices are being implemented on farms. While the rules under FSMA may not be implemented for a number of years, consumers can be assured that the LGMA program will continue in the meantime.
The LGMA is looking forward to reviewing the revised Produce Rule so that we can make sure certified members of our food safety program are in compliance with federal requirements. Our hope is that the law remains stringent and that it is not weakened. That being said, even a weakening of federal requirements would have little impact on our membership.
The LGMA position on FSMA is simple. We believe our program is the best approach to providing safe leafy greens for consumers. We have asked the FDA to utilize our program to verify that certified LGMA members are in compliance with federal food safety requirements. We are willing to work closely with FDA because we share their goal – keeping the food that you and your family eat safe.
Food safety is the most important thing our farmers do. The LGMA program has been in operation since 2007 and it has truly changed the way California and Arizona leafy greens are farmed. A culture now exists throughout the leafy greens community that puts food safety first. This culture is something that existed before FSMA and it will continue to exist when this law is finalized – whenever that may be.