January 12, 2010
Senate Passes Food Safety Bill
by Lora Kolodny | December 1, 2010
"On Tuesday, the United States senate passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (senate bill 510). If the House also approves the bill, as expected, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have the power to force food recalls when contamination is reported by consumers. The bill will also increase the stringency and frequency of safety inspections for food manufacturers and processors.
"Last week, the senate amended their version of the bill to make farms with revenue less than $500,000 a year exempt from the new requirements. Direct-to-consumer sellers, including farmers’ market vendors, would also be exempt. The bill does not address poultry or beef products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"A managing partner at the venture and private equity fund Bradmer Foods, Adam Borden, predicted the pending regulation will compel mass and industrial food producers to hire more people, and invest in technology to help them track their products and oversee their facilities. Costs could be passed along to consumers in food prices, Borden believes. Bradmer Foods’ portfolio includes the acai beverage company Sambazon, the sustainable packaged seafood company Blue Horizon Wild, and the organic premium confectioners Charles Chocolates.
"Critics of the Food Safety And Modernization Act, the Christian Science Monitor reports, contend that the regulations will put small food businesses at a disadvantage versus large industrial food companies. Borden believes these concerns are misguided, and explained:
'Small or growing processed food manufacturers usually acquire ingredients from relatively larger companies so that they can source them in high enough quantities to meet demand. It’s mostly primary agricultural providers of a larger size that will have to upgrade their systems under this bill. Local exemptions are built-in to protect the eat local movement, food trucks and more. It’s not such a divisive proposal, and it’s something that companies should be able to adapt to reasonably well.'
"Federal regulations often spur demand for compliance-related technology and services, as seen in the finance sector with Sarbanes-Oxley. If the bill passes, Borden and other industry insiders have suggested food tech players stand to win new business.
"The director of science and technology projects with The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Jennifer McEntire, sees particular market opportunities for companies that provide product tracing, enterprise resource planning software, packaging and preservative technologies."
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