Called the most significant change in the nation's food safety rules since the'30s, the Food Safety Modernization Act signed by President Obama earlier this year focuses on prevention more than reaction.
The new law will have varying degrees of impact on producers, processors and retailers of food. If there are questions, the Oregon Department of Agriculture is providing outreach and education to those wondering what it all really means.
Under the FMSA, "you can expect new laws, new authorities given to
federal food partners, and new responsibilities for growers and processors," says Vance Bybee, administrator of ODA's Food Safety Division.
"Even though there will be many changes, we want to assure everyone that the good relationships they have built with the Oregon Department of Agriculture will not change. We will continue to do our best to help them through the process."
Hopes are high that FSMA enables the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. The three main components of FSMA include prevention, detection and response, and import safety.
Some provisions are already in place while others continue to be developed.
While the new law gives FDA new enforcement authorities designed to achieve higher rates of compliance with prevention and risk-based food safety standards, state departments of agriculture like ODA promise to continue to provide a layer of inspection and response capabilities.
Part of ODA's initial response to the new law is to explain it to Oregon agriculture, which it attempted to do in two-day forums this year in Portland and Salem.
Additional sessions will be scheduled for other parts of the state later this year.
According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick each year from foodborne diseases. About 3,000 of them die from the maladies.
If you have questions about the new act, they can be sent to [email protected].