Produce Food Safety Services Comments on FDA Investigations; Chris Butts and Beth Oleson Comment
LA GRANGE, GA - Produce Food Safety Services (PFSS) recently issued a response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) investigations leading to the publishing of the “Factors Potentially Contributing to the Contamination of Cantaloupe…” report. In the report, the FDA published 10 recommendations and requirements for growers of melons and similar produce commodities.
“The FDA is not embracing the spirit and intent of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA),” said Chris Butts, Executive Director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) and the affiliated Produce Food Safety Services. “There is a disconnect in the findings described in this outbreak investigation report and the actual work of the FDA—to prevent foodborne illnesses through sharing data with those organizations involved, helping them realize potential issues, and pointing them to potential people and organizations who could help.”
As the organization stated in its response, this, and other recent FDA reports, have conducted investigations on “adjacent lands” several miles from the farms and packinghouses subject to the investigations; the reports also put much emphasis on inconsistent adherence to or deviation from existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and food safety programs.
“FDA inspectors are creating an adversarial environment of 'gotchas' that does not encourage confidence and safety in fresh produce. Advocacy groups need to work together with Congress to ensure fair and reasonable treatment of farmers,” Butts continued.
PFSS has expanded to offer extensive food safety consulting programs to farms, packinghouses, and processing facilities around the country. This includes the development of food safety programs, audit and inspection preparation, education and training, supply chain management, and recall management.
“In the normal course of business, farm management practices regularly change, usually for the better,” adds Beth Oleson, Program Manager for PFSS. “But when those practices differ from written SOPs and food safety programs, it’s essential that companies update their plans. Even if a new practice results in an improvement in food safety, the variance from the plan could lead to regulatory actions against the farm—actual practices and written SOPs must be in alignment.”
To read the response in full, click here.
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