November 5, 2010
On Thursday, November 4, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA/AMS), and Cornell University announced the creation of a public-private organization, the Produce Safety Alliance, which will provide produce growers and packagers with on-farm food safety knowledge and develop an information bank of up-to-date scientific and technical information related to on-farm and packinghouse produce safety.
The Produce Safety Alliance, which will be housed at Cornell, is a three-year, $1.15 million partnership funded by the FDA and USDA/AMS. The FDA is expected to issue a proposed rule on the safe production, harvesting, and packing of produce in 2011, and the alliance is preparing to accompany the upcoming regulations with training and educational materials for producers and packers.
“What growers and packers want is science-based information they can use in the fields and the packing houses to improve food safety practices in practical ways,” said Betsy Bihn, coordinator of Cornell University’s National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) Program. “Our goal is to meet that need today and down the road as FDA moves forward in its rulemaking process.”
According to the release, representatives from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), land grant universities, growers and shippers, produce trade organizations, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will join FDA, AMS, and Cornell officials on the alliance’s steering committee.
The alliance has not set up a formal process for membership on the steering committee, though Bihn asserted that it will be “critical” to have small farms and other direct marketing operations represented on the committee, and that “we’re going to do our best to incorporate groups that work with smaller growers, CSAs, and farmers markets.”
In NSAC’s view, that representation should be further broadened to include sustainable and organic producers, mid-sized farms, and farmer partners in mid-tier value chains and other regional and farm-identity preserved supply networks.
For more information or to indicate an interest in serving on the steering committee, contact Betsy Bihn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (315) 787–2625.