What does the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) mean for small farmers? How and when will these standards and practices be implemented? Most pressing to many small farmers is the big question of, “What is this going to cost me?”
In terms of produce, the answers to this last question come in the details.
A piece from the AP cites: “The FDA estimates the cost of implementing the rules will be about $4,700 a year for very small farms, $13,000 for small farms and $30,500 for large farms. Size is determined by a farm’s annual business.” Yet, before panic gets a chance to set in for readers out there that are small farmers, factor in that: “Farms selling less than $25,000 of produce annually and those selling directly to the public without going through a third party would be exempt. FDA estimates about 79 percent of all U.S. produce farms won’t have to comply.”
Details about economic parameters, along with details in countless other areas, are plentiful when it comes to the FSMA. For small farmers it will be necessary to figure out where they fit in and what changes will be needed in their operation to comply with new standards of food safety in the United States.
Thankfully, the FDA provides various resources to help small farmers determine their applicable roles and responsibilities. One very basic resource to consult can be found here on a “What You Need to Know” page. For further information and to sign up for FSMA email updates click here.
Knowing a bit about the details can go a long way in keeping your operation working smoothly. It can also provide a place to begin taking on major change in the food industry, with a bit more confidence in tow.
If you or a loved one have ever experienced (or are) the process of expecting a child, you know that a lot of people are more than happy to dole out advice. In addition to trustworthy sources like your physician, you will probably find a whole host of less-than-qualified, but no less sincere, insights from friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Even if these less-than-qualified sources might have your best interests in mind, even just a bit of “bad” advice could compromise the health of you or your baby, especially when it comes to something as serious as food safety.
With the aim of getting good, trustworthy inforamation out to parents-to-be, the FDA created “Food Safety for Moms-To-Be.” This free website features information on food safety while planning for a pregnancy, food safety concerns when you are expecting, and lifelong food safety practices. Key concerns like Listeria, Methylmercury, and Toxoplasma are dealt with in detail, as are food preparation/handling techniques, safe foods to eat before and during pregnancy, as well as many other topics.
To check out the site you can click here.
Kefir? If you are not familiar with the term, you might be soon. At an increasing number of retail outlets one can find this cultured product that is smooth, creamy, and able to be flavored in numerous ways. Kefir “grains” are a mixture of yeasts and bacteria that are added to milk to ferment. The result is a smooth, creamy, and tangy smoothie-like drink. Kefir can be flavored with fruit, chocolate, etc.
So why the interest in this new food trend? Well, actually, there is nothing new about it! Kefir has been a popular drink in Eastern Europe for centuries. Lately, it has garnered a lot of attention in the States due to the fact that Kefir is chock-full of probiotics: tiny bacteria that can assist in the functioning of your GI System. It doesn’t hurt too, that Kefir has a rich mouth feel and smoothness that makes getting your probiotics a treat popular with many, including kids.
One can see a plethora of kefir products on the market reaching to numerous niche markets. For instance, kids can get their hands on ProBugs(TM) from Lifeway Foods, an “Organic Whole Milk Kefir for kids with fun characters and flavors even the pickiest eaters will like.” Low-fat, non-fat, and whole milk kefir; frozen kefir; organic kefir; and even kefir cheese are other product choices that have shown up in retail outlets across the country.
From relative obscurity a few years ago, kefir has come a long way in the U.S. market. Lifeway, who controls 95-97 % of the American kefir market, has gone from a 12 million dollar a year company to a $80-100 million dollar company in approximately the last decade. The wide variety of products has provided an attractive and tasty way for consumers to garner more probiotics in the diet. To check out more about Kefir, including recipes and additional information on probiotics, check out the National Kefir Association’s webpage here.
For those dealing with food allergies, navigating grocery stores, restaurants, etc. can seem like a daunting task. Checking labels, ingredients, menu items, etc. can be a tiring and sometimes anxiety-producing process. As food producers, it can be tough to fathom the spectrum of allergies our customers may have to contend with, from mild reactions all the way to severe, life-threatening reactions. Recently, some new information has recast light and focus on this critical responsibility for food industry interests.
The FDA reported recently that in 2012, allergens were the number one cause of food safety reports in the United States. Topping Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, allergens were responsible for “37.9% of reports in 2012, Salmonella 28.1% and Lm 21.4%.” The top spot was held by Salmonella in both 2010 and 2011. This information joins a much larger focus on allergens as a larger public health issue. For instance, in the National Center for Health Statistics’ brief, “Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997-2011,” released in May of 2013, it states that: “Among children aged 0–17 years, the prevalence of food allergies increased from 3.4% in 1997–1999 to 5.1% in 2009–2011.”
One can assume that considerable attention will be focused on allergens as a primary food safety concern in the coming years. In the meantime, what can individual producers, the food industry, regulators, and even consumers do to confront this growing concern? What do you think the future has in store for the industry when it comes to food allergens? We would love to hear your thoughts…please feel free to post any responses, ideas, etc. on the subject.
To amend a famous phrase: “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes…and pathogens.” That is right. These tenacious little trouble makers are constantly knocking at our doors in the food industry. It is hard not to resent their tenacity and the ill effects they bring with them on a daily basis. However, there is hope! Get ready to give our microscopic mischief makers the boot!
A new tool in the fight against pathogens called the “HACCP Defender Boot Sanitizing System” will have your employees lining up to focus on this very issue. The HACCP Defender is a walk-in station that utilizes the proven power of Alpet D2 Surface Sanitizer to thoroughly treat employees’ boots before they walk into critical areas of your operation.
The HAACP Defender uses infrared sensors to operate control doors and sprayers, that combined are designed to ensure boots get a thorough application of ALPET D2. Featuring stainless steel construction, the walk-in design reduces chemical waste and controls moisture, ensuring a safe and easy way to combat the threat of pathogens on a daily basis.
To check out more information and view the HACCP Defender in action click here, or contact Devon Jones, MRO Product Manager, at 800-826-8302 to discuss how the HACCP Defender can help your operation kick pathogens out of daily operations from your food industry operation.
PDF Specification Sheet