The Produce Marketing Association has advocated mandatory food safety regulation for more than a year now and is actively working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to improve food safety standards in the produce industry. And with this summer's salmonella outbreak keeping safety concerns high for growers and retailers, PMA has made it a point to address food safety issues from a number of angles at this year's Fresh Summit show.
First, a Town Hall Meeting on Friday, Oct. 24, will feature public health authorities, government officials and industry experts on hand to discuss the investigative process, provide insight and information they have learned from these outbreaks, and answer questions.
The Food Safety + Risk Management = Profitability session on Oct. 25 will ask participants to view food safety programs as not just a social responsibility, but a critical risk assessment/risk management tool. And on Oct. 26, the Food Safety: Keeping your Business Healthy session will review the latest regulatory updates and initiatives and look at food safety from a return-on-investment perspective.
Most recently, PMA commented on the FDA's proposal for a voluntary third-party certification program for food and feed, saying that a globally standardized and certified audit program would be an important step toward satisfying the produce supply chain's need for consistency.
The association emphasized its support of an FDA initiative that would permit diverse produce certification and auditing options. This would allow companies that have already invested in food safety infrastructure to continue their business relationships with their chosen third-party partners, providing FDA requirements are met.
“We are encouraged by FDA's progress in this critical area of food safety, but more work needs to be done to ensure this regulation reflects the produce industry's nuances,” said Kathy Means, PMA's vice president of government relations and public affairs.
“As we cast this proposal against PMA's overall food safety regulatory platform — which is grounded in the everyday realities of its membership — it's evident PMA's continued leadership on the topic of food safety will prove essential in making a voluntary third-party certification program relevant, actionable and enforceable.”