How You Can Help Shape the Food Safety Modernization Act

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has caused much controversy in the local food system world, due to the question of how it may impact local and small-scale farmers and producers. Being the first piece of legislation to regulate raw unprocessed produce, as well as the first update to food safety regulations in the U.S. in over a decade, the FSMA intends to help prevent against food borne illness, allergic contamination, and other food safety issues across the entire food system in the U.S. Local agriculturists are concerned about the degree to which policies meant to improve safety standards at large industrial farms will be applied to their small-scale farm. Certain “minimum standards” for packaging for instance could mean that all produce sold through a farmers’ market would have to be packaged in the same form of acceptable packaging that produce that is distributed nationally and internationally in the traditional industrial market. While these concerns are valid, it is not likely that local small-scale farmers will face this fate. Throughout the controversial “standards For Produce Safety” (Sec. 105) section of the law, numerous mentions are made that take into account “small and very small businesses.” Ultimately, the secretary of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have the opportunity to determine the best way to deal with these types of small-scale agricultural businesses, which could have both national and local repercussions. If you want to weigh in on the law and make your voice heard, read through the proposed FSMA here, and then click here to send your comments. Comments close on November 15.