Tom Karst, national editor for The Packer, floated the idea on the magazine’s website of a user fee imposed on the industry to help implement food safety regulations. Karst posted the question to the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group recently. One member supported the idea, stating that a leader that would facilitate regulations in a positive way would be worthwhile to the industry, as opposed to funding government agencies that waste money.
Having a user fee imposed on the industry to help implement food safety regulations and educate the grower community could make sure that the funds are applied carefully, to maximum effect, Karst noted. Having a stake in FSMA funding may help mitigate unnecessary regulations and added costs down the line. “In theory, having a stake in FSMA funding may help mitigate unnecessary regulations and added costs down the line,” Karst wrote.
Karst said the industry recognizes the FDA needs funds to properly proceed with final regulations and implementation.
He said both the United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association (PMA) have come out against added user fees to implement FSMA regulations.
He also noted that Jim Gorny, PMA’s vice president of food safety and technology, told him that government funds for educating growers and industry should have priority over money allocated for training FDA and state inspectors.
Editors Insight: The food industry should be thinking seriously and creatively about food safety regulations. Tom Karst understands that new ideas are needed for the produce industry to ensure its safe practices. The same holds true for all food categories.
Nobody wants to pay more government fees. But nobody questions the fact that the government does not have the funding needed to effectively enforce the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The Produce Marketing Association wants Congress to appropriate an additional $109.5 million in funding to help the FDA implement the new regulations and educate the industry. The federal budget only provides about $11.5 million for education and technical assistance to industry.
The industry needs to be more proactive on food safety.
Lawmakers continue to push for additional food safety measures. The media continue to report on food safety problems. Influential personal injury lawyers insist stronger measures are needed.
The Food Safety Modernization Act rules have not been finalized. There is still time for the industry to offer guidance on these rules.
The food has many concerns about the proposed FSMA rules. (http://www.foodlogistics.com/article/12059832/fb-industry-supports-food-safety-improvement-but-calls-for-changes-to-fsma) While many of the industry’s concerns about the rules are well founded, the industry should be doing more to provide guidance in how the rules can better ensure food safety. 6-1-15 By Elliot Maras