North Carolina's Commissioner of Agriculture is urging farmers and produce packers to make their views known and their voices heard by commenting on new food safety rules proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The proposed rules are designed to prevent contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as cover preventive measures for the manufacturing of food products.
The rules, which have been anticipated since the Food Safety Modernization was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Jan. 4, 2011, were released Jan. 4, 2013, exactly two years after the signing.
"The Food Safety Modernization Act and these rules represent a significant step forward in protecting the American public by focusing on prevention," said Troxler. "Within agriculture and the farming community, we want to provide a safe product and work collaboratively with the FDA to address any food safety issues to better protect public health. We have seen first-hand the effects of national recalls on consumer confidence and the great economic damage to the farming community."
Troxler, who is also currently serving as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, stressed it is important that farmers, packers and food manufacturers scrutinize the rules now that they are available for public comment and take time to provide feedback.
"Input from the industry and the public will be essential to ensuring that FDA gets these rules, right," he said.
When FDA began developing the proposed rules the Tarheel State was the first to hold listening sessions.
"We commend the FDA for investing a lot of time in listening to state officials and growers across the country," Troxler said. "Their approach serves as a model for how to create the kind of partnerships we all strive for – federal, state and local governments working together."
Troxler noted partnership and education will be critical as FDA moves forward with food safety rules.
"We look forward to working with the FDA on a new approach to educate farmers about the rules," he said. "This will be done through the Produce Safety Alliance and through a pilot program that North Carolina and other states are developing with FDA to assist farmers in understanding the requirements of the new produce rule."
Information about the rules can be accessed online.