The Food Safety Modernization Act: How Food Traceability Requirements Protect Consumers

In an effort to make the food supply safer in the United States, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act. Administered by the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture, this act is a complete shift in how regulators monitor, trace, and protect high risk food supplies across the nation.

The Ace dramatically increases the federal jurisdiction of food for the protection of consumers. Under the Act, the FDA is empowered to quarantine the movement of food products within state lines with oversight by the judicial branch of the government.

Under the new law, both the Food and Drug Administration and Health and Human services will have the authority to increase the inspections of domestic food production operations. The improvement of the detection of food borne illnesses will reduce the danger of food poisoning outbreaks. This Act is a step away from the government’s typical reactionary response to threats to the food supply and a step toward the prevention of food borne illnesses. Through increase powers to recall tainted food and new regulations for record keeping by food producers, the FDA and HHS will have the power and information necessary to trace and recall food products throughout the food supply chain.

Still, much is yet unknown about what new record keeping regulations food producers must meet. One of the first steps will be for the USDA to run two pilot programs. Once these programs are complete, the newly acquired data will be combined with high-risk food data collected by the FDA over the past decade. This data will instruct the FDA in is creation of the new laws requiring food companies to put in place new safety rules to limit potential hazards.

Clearly a safe food supply is wanted by consumers and producers alike. Complaints by smaller producers are already starting to arise. There is some talk that the new laws may not be applicable to producers selling less than $500,000 in product per year. As is often the case, the Food Safety Modernization Act will spark debate between consumer advocates and business interest for some time. Until the FDA publishes its new rules, the true cost of implementing the Act by businesses operating here in the United States will not be known.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is intended to protect both consumers and growers and producers alike. For the first time in its history the Food and Drug Administration has been give a specific mandate to prevent food borne illness. The ability to trace food product from field to table will make it possible for the Government to identify risk and completely remove it from the entire food supply chain.

As the USDA pilot programs continue, stakeholders will have the opportunity to respond and proved valuable input into the writing of the new record keeping rules. A safe food supply can be good business for growers and producers. Consumers will be able to eat from the food supply with increased confidence.