In This Issue:
Page 5 …................…. AG Census and Farm Trends
Page 22 ….................. Political Action Committee forms
Page 22 ............ Former Gov. Jeb Bush on Immigration
FDA promises help
on FSMA rules;
At the United
Fresh-FMI convention in mid-June, the Food and
Drug Administration said that
they will look to
educate before it enforces new food safety laws.
Roberta Wagner, deputy director for regulatory affairs for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied
Nutrition Stressing voluntary compliance of the Food
Safety Modernization Act, stressed voluntary compliance of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
All rules for FSMA are due from the agency in 2015.
Wagner often referred to an FDA document issued May
2 that outlines the agency’s strategy on the rules. She
said there are three basic steps to enact the FSMA: rule-making, planning and implementation.
“What we really want is to gain voluntary industry compliance with these new standards so that when we do
start inspecting against the standards and find noncompliance, what we want is voluntary industry corrections
that are adequate and timely,’ she said.
Part of FDA’s challenge is creating a new way of treating
inspections. For example, Wagner said that looking at
independent third-party audits showed new ways to determine whether a company has a culture of food safety.
“What we’re learning is that there is a line of questioning that helps establish whether there is a food
safety culture in a facility or on a given farm, and we
don’t have that line of questioning,” she said. ”We
need to ask different questions to assess if there is a
food safety culture in a given facility or in a growing
Wagner said the FDA also may want to give industry
credit for making voluntary corrections. To do that, she
said the agency plans to capture more data on voluntary
compliance. “To elicit the culture change, we literally
have to start with the way we hire, what we look at in
our investigators, how we train our investigators and
how we establish compliance strategies,” she said.
She indicated that the current FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg wants to create a new inspection culture
whereby FDA inspectors are not inspecting food one day,
feed the next, medical devices another day, etc. She wants
specialization to develop expertise in specific areas.
As the FDA establishes the FSMA’s produce safety rule,
the agency will have produce safety experts to help
growers comply. The agency will also put more emphasis on data analysis and risk factors.
Put pesticides in
By Barbara Quinn
I gulped down a handful
of juicy red grapes as we
ran out the door. My friend
Chris munched on an
apple as we drove out of
town. Later we shared a
bowl of strawberries and
other assorted berries. Should we worry?
According to the Environmental Working Group
(EWG) — a nonprofit organization whose stated
mission is “to protect public health and the environment” — these are a few of the foods targeted on
their scary-sounding “Dirty Dozen” list, foods they
found to have higher levels of pesticide residues.
Buy the organic version of these foods, says the
Not so fast, says the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) — another nonprofit that represents
farmers of organic and conventional crops. This
organization ( www.safefruitsandvegetables.com)
says conclusions reached by the EWG may unnecessarily scare people from eating perfectly safe
and healthy food.
The issue, says UC Davis food toxicologist Carl
Winter, stems from the methods used by the EWG
to come up with its “Dirty Dozen” list. It’s not just
the presence of one or more residues on a food that
determines risk, he explains. It’s the amount. His
research on the same foods found the potential risk
from exposure to pesticides — on organic as well as
conventionally grown crops — is negligible.
To put this in perspective, says the AFF, a child
could eat 154 conventionally grown apples in one
day with the highest pesticide residue ever recorded
by monitoring agencies and still not reach a level
that would have any effect on health.
So the point seems not so much whether a fruit or
vegetable is grown with the use of organic or conventional pesticides but whether or not we are eating
those fruits or vegetables.
Truckloads of studies over the past decades show
without a doubt the health benefits of eating fresh
produce. And these studies have largely been conducted using those that have been grown conventionally. It’s been estimated, for example, that we can
have a 42 percent lower risk of dying prematurely if
we eat at least seven servings of fruit and vegetables
a day. (A “serving” is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw,
organic or conventionally grown).
Even the EWG, which publishes the “Dirty Dozen”
list, confirms that “the health benefits of a diet rich
in fruits and vegetables outweigh risks of pesticide
Timelines for FSMA
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA),
the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws
in more than 70 years, signed into law on January 4,
2011, aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by
shifting the focus from responding to contamination
to preventing it.
The Center for Food Safety (FDA) and the Center for
Environmental Health have created a new timeline
for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules.
FDA and two advocacy groups reached a settlement
in a case appealing the strict, court-imposed deadlines
for FDA’s publication of final versions of the rules.
Each rule represents major changes to the industry
and FDA in how the safety of human and animal food
is controlled and regulated, both domestically and imported. It’s critical that FDA have the time to ensure
that the final rules are right.
The agreement requires FDA to issue the following
regulations under new deadlines: preventive controls
for human and animal food (8/30/15); imported food
and foreign suppliers (10/31/15); produce safety
(10/31/15); food transportation (3/31/16); and intentional adulteration of food (5/31/16); sanitary transportation (3/31/16); and intentional food adulteration
As one expert said, we should all try to minimize the
amount of pesticides on the food we eat. But we don’t
have to avoid conventionally produced foods to meet
Should we eat more vegetables and fruit? Yes. Can we
safely choose produce that has been grown organically
or conventionally? Yes.
I applaud all our American farmers who groan under
the weight of intense food safety regulations to assure
we have the safest food in the entire world.
And I trust the AFF recommendation: “Read, learn,
choose but eat more organic and conventional fruits
and veggies for better health and longer life.”
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified
diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the