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Processors group gets message on new food safety law

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The state’s agriculture director is confident that a new food safety law will be fair and effective in preventing food borne illnesses, but the law’s proposed rules have a long way to go:

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Speaking at the Northwest Food Processors Association meeting in Portland, Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba says it will take a partnership of industry, state government, and the FDA to put together the best system possible for ensuring the food we eat is safe:

COBA:  “How can we make sure we do it in a way that ensures food safety, but keeps this very, very important economic driver in business ?”  :11

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The Food Safety Modernization Act and the proposed rules set forth by FDA are under high scrutiny by growers, packers, and processors. Some say the rules, as initially proposed, will be such a hardship some folks will go out of business. FDA has taken intiial public comment and will revise rules on produce food safety and preventive controls. With a June 2015 deadline for implementation of FSMA, there is a lot of work yet to do, as Coba pointed out in her address to the food processors:

COBA:  “We have to do this together. It’s just too much, too big. We’ve got to collectively bring all of our knowledge and resources together and, in the end, get at what we are all after, which is to have equal emphasis on food safety and the economic viability of our food industry.”  :18

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Still to come is how to fund the Food Safety Modernization Act and what specific role state regulators, like ODA, will play under the new law. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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COBA says the food industry, from growers to processors, is very interested in having a more effective food safety system. They just want to make sure it can be implemented without undue hardship on those who must comply:

“It was really the food industry and the food regulators collectively that said we’ve got to bring the food regulation system up to meet what’s happening in the real world.”  :10

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COBA says the Food Safety Modernization Act is much needed, but appreciates the scrutiny its proposed rules are getting. There are still questions about funding and what will be the state’s role in the new law:

“The rules are challenging enough, but once the rules are in place and we are actually out on the ground implementing those, that’s a whole new challenge for us on the regulatory side. So we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and when we are actually boots on the ground.”  :14

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