Cargill exec: Trump doesn’t need to ‘walk back’ Food Safety Modernization Act
President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t need to “walk back” the Food Safety Modernization Act, a key piece of Obama administration legislation, the director of food safety for Cargill, one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies said this week.
FMSA is “a good regulation we support,” said Mike Robach, the vice president for corporate food safety, quality and regulatory affairs for Cargill, a Wayzata, Minn.-based company.
“We need to have government oversight. The government has a role in assuring the things we are doing to support safe food,” Robach told reporters at a meeting of the Global Food Security Initiative, a group that tries to establish It also levels the playing field.
“We think with FSMA we have a set of rules that are based on science. We had input,” Robach said.
Although food companies weren’t completely satisfied with the bill that Congress passed, “we did work on the rulemaking. I feel pretty good about where we are on that.”
Robach also noted that industry has started the campaign for the bill in order to assure consumers about food safety and that it had passed in 2010 with bipartisan support.
Although the rules for FSMA are in place, there are still questions about how it will be implemented, he said.
The bill is supposed to shift FDA’s role in food safety from dealing with problems when they occur to prevention.
FDA still calls its inspection force “investigators,” which leads company officials to think they are trying to mount a case against a company, Robach said, adding he has suggested that the agency use the term “inspectors” instead.
Gillian Kelleher, the vice president of food safety and quality assurance at the Wegmans grocery store chain, added that FSMA is “changing mindsets and that is helpful when you shift to prevention.”
Peter Begg, the senior director for global quality at Mondelēz International, said the traceability required under FSMA is “an evolution” and that some products are easier to trace all the way back to basic production than others.
FMSA requires inspection of imports and Begg said there are still questions about whether companies that follow good practices will get “expedited review” at the U.S. border.
GFSI, which Robach chairs, is based in Paris and was set up to bring together companies to establish uniform high food safety standards in the private sector and make it easier for companies to meet the requirements under FSMA and similar laws.
GFSI’s activities lead to companies qualifying for third party certification for food safety. GFSI is trying to convince FDA that its members’ third party certification should be accepted so that FDA could concentrate on companies that need assistance to meet standards.
A Canadian Food Inspection Agency official said that under Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Act, the equivalent of FSMA, acknowledges third party certification, GFSI said in a news release.
–The Hagstrom Report
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