Author’s Note: Special thanks to Joel Chappelle, a food safety professional in our firm, for his continued research and contributions to our food safety columns. Joel has worked with us for many years, assisting food companies throughout the nation.
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Explore this issueDecember/January 2013
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Our national food safety system traces its origins to the beginning of the 20th century, when there was virtually no oversight of our food production.
In response to a growing movement questioning the quality and safety of meat products, Congress enacted the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967, and the USDA hired and deployed federal inspectors to slaughter plants throughout the nation. The federal inspector’s job was to ensure through visual inspection that our food was being produced under sanitary conditions. Today, these inspectors remain in every federally inspected meat and poultry establishment in the country. While their mission has not changed significantly, the environment in which they accomplish it has.
Scientific and technological advances over the past century have revolutionized our understanding of pathogens and the causes of foodborne illness. Microbiologists, physicians, veterinarians, farmers, government regulators, and engineers have all worked together to develop the most effective food safety apparatus yet. The results have been largely responsible for a substantial decline in the number of foodborne illnesses in recent years.
In spite of the improvements, increased scrutiny has been placed on the food industry by the public, the media, and politicians, many of whom argue that even a single foodborne illness is entirely unacceptable and that more must be done regardless of the difficulties involved in detecting and preventing the presence of microscopic organisms.
The government answered these calls, in part, with the recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The act, which legislates the largest expansion of the FDA’s food safety authority since the 1930s, has been hailed as the most comprehensive piece of food safety legislation ever enacted. It seeks to radically transform the regulatory landscape for thousands of American and international food companies through the implementation of new requirements and a broad inspection apparatus ostensibly designed to ensure the safety of American food.| | | Next → | Single Page