Remember 2010, year of the tainted spinach, peanut butter, eggs, ground beef and whatnot? And then Cantaloupe-gate the following year? Two years later, the FDA has at last answered the consumer call to action with two new rules food manufacturers will be required to follow.
The first rule is up to the companies: they must identify which measures pertaining to the 4 “W’s” — water, waste, workers and wildlife — will aid in preventing contamination in processed food during production and packaging. Then the tricky part: implementing them. The strict books food companies will now be required to keep for FDA inspectors and auditors, specific game plans for contamination outbreaks included, should provide some motivation.
The second pertains to produce-harvesting methods — specifically, how to reduce the amount of bacteria present at harvest time and packaging. This involves providing better sanitizing facilities because, as our moms all told us, you never know who didn’t wash his hands before picking that (name of produce), and that is indeed the epicenter of many food-borne illnesses.
While it’s no surprise that this legislation has taken so long to push forward, seeing as our food system is particularly complicated and relies heavily on imports and questionable labor practices, this could be the glimmer of hope we’ve been waiting for. Hand-washing produce pickers? Temperatures high enough to kill salmonella? What will they think of next?
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