Arizona lawmakers are considering a bill that seeks to do away with state licensing for a wide variety of professions, trades and positions — including packers of fresh produce and other foods, according to Food Safety News.
With the state being No. 2 in the nation for production of lettuce and leafy greens, the deregulation legislation could compromise food safety for millions, according to some in the fresh produce industry.
“I’ll get right down to it. The concern is food safety,” said Shelly Tunis of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association when she testified before during Arizona’s House Commerce Committee. “We need to know everybody who touches that fruit and vegetable as it goes along the line, and that starts with the people that put it in the box. This license helps with traceback.”
Also opposing the bill is the Arizona Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Council, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. The council is urging Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to retain licensing for produce packers.
To read more, click here.
Editors Insight: This proposal demonstrates the need for the food industry to maintain strong legislative and lobbying activities. The industry depends on a responsible regulation to sustain food safety.
The food industry has invested millions of dollars in working with the FDA on a workable set of safety regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It will take some time before the FSMA rules are in place, and questions remain about how the FSMA will be enforced. In the meantime, state regulations are important to ensuring food safety.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who supports eliminating licensing for food packers, has taken a leadership role in promoting trade between his state and Mexico. The governor needs to realize that increasing cross border trade will require effective food safety rules. 3-29-16 By Elliot Maras