retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Politico has a terrific story entitled, "Why President Obama and Congress turned their backs on food safety," which says that "the Obama administration and Congress have all but squandered an opportunity to give the anemic Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, a level of oversight the public long assumed it already had.

"On paper, the law that Congress passed in late 2010 — known as the Food Safety Modernization Act — was bigger than anything since Teddy Roosevelt cleaned up the meatpacking industry. The law mandated more inspections and much tougher anti-contamination standards for everything from peaches to imported pesto sauce, and it placed more emphasis on preventing outbreaks than on chasing them down after people become sick.

"But almost five years later, not one of the sweeping new rules has been implemented and funding is more than $276 million behind where it needs to be. A law that could have been legacy-defining for President Barack Obama instead represents a startling example of a broad and bipartisan policy initiative stymied by politics and the neglect of some of its strongest proponents."

The analysis is in-depth, the conclusions may alone may make you sick, and you can read the entire story here.
KC's View:
First of all, full disclosure ... ReposiTrak, which offers a trackability and traceability system that will help food industry companies comply with the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), is a valued and longtime MNB sponsor, and not only have I done a series of videos for the company that highlight the problems and solutions (which you can see here), but I'm working on a new batch.

So I do have a dog in this hunt. I also would like to think that through my interactions with the folks at ReposiTrak, as well as numerous retailers and manufacturers, and the food safety folks at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), which includes ReposiTrak in its suite of food safety-related tools, I actually have learned more about the subject than I might otherwise know.

This much I am sure of ... while it has taken a long time for the new FSMA regulations to be finalized, when they finally are, the implications are going to be serious for the food industry. It will take a year once the new rules are announced for them to be enforced, but it will happen ... and I am persuaded that many retailers simply are not ready.

But perhaps even more importantly, the people to whom I have spoken who are progressive and committed this issue pretty much all agree that the new FSMA regulations, whatever they are, almost certainly will represent the bare minimum that food industry companies need to do in order to provide their customers with safe and reliable food. FSMA is not the end, but the beginning ... and the bureaucratic nightmare, the breakdown in leadership, and chronic underfunding of this new and, I think, necessary set of rules does not make it any less important for companies to step up and do the right thing.