Friday, December 3, 2010

Food safety legislation: what's next

Food safety in the US seems to have taken a big step yesterday with US Senate passage of S. 510, also called the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. (Whether that step is forward or backward depends on your point of view regarding the bill and, possibly, legislation in general.)
But it's not law yet. Just this morning brought
news of a snafu holding up approval by the US House of Representatives. (It passed its own version of the bill, way back in July 2009, but because the Senate made changes, the House now has to vote again.) Apparently the Senate version includes a section that "violates a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House," according to John Stanton of Roll Call.
That's a big oops, and considering this is a lame duck Congress trying to tackle many other pressing issues before the end of the year and end of this Congressional session, working out the problem in a timely manner is not guaranteed. (Even with what constitutes "timely" by US Congressional standards.)
The legislation is likely to pass eventually, and that fact is generating quite a bit of
praise and criticism. Even proponents are expressing concern about what the nitty-gritty details will look like once regulators start working with it.
This is possibly cause for concern for petfood manufacturers, too. But the good news for our industry is that most players -- manufacturers, suppliers and regulators -- have been anticipating, discussing and preparing for the impending new regulations for well over a year. Dan McChesney
, PhD, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance for the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine, and others have been giving industry talks predicting what is likely to happen.So what is that? For one, the bill will require that companies currently registered as food producers under the Bioterrorism Act -- and that includes petfood producers -- register with FDA and create written, risk-based hazard control programs. If you already have, use and thoroughly document within a HACCP program or current GMPs (good manufacturing practices), you're probably in good shape.If not, you would do well to start creating such a program soon. The folks at Extru-Tech Inc. have some good tips and suggestions in the latest issue of their e-newsletter.

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