It’s hard to believe, but many of my colleagues and I have now been working on food safety issues for well over four years, at least since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) began to move through Congress in early 2009. Throughout that time the road has been twisting and bumpy, with victories and losses along the way, but now the moment of truth has arrived. In just a few weeks, on November 15, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will close the comment period on proposed new rules that would greatly affect many of the farmers who are doing the right thing. It’s anyone’s guess right now what will finally come out as a result.
When I talk about the “right thing” I really mean that many farmers at PASA and elsewhere have been working to develop balanced systems of production that prioritize health-building practices from the soil up, and short food supply chains that promote transparency by selling to local and regional markets as much as possible. Such strategies are the embodiment of both common sense and current science, since they maximize the health of the whole system while also minimizing risk through reduction of handling, storage, transportation and other factors associated with longer supply chains. The urgent challenge now before us is that the FDA is preparing to implement food safety rules for tomorrow’s farms based on yesterday’s science. Continue reading