New Regulations On The Way For Food
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There are new rules that will affect all the food we eat. The federal government is proposing some of the most sweeping changes to food and safety in decades. It comes after dozens of food recalls in the last year. But some farmers are concerned about too much regulation.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates talked with U.S Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the changes. The secretary was in Nashville for the annual Farm Bureau convention. His department is working with the Food and Drug Administration on the newly proposed rules that would mean new sanitation standards for large farms.
Vilsack says, "We have far too many illnesses and sicknesses in this country associated with foodborne illnesses. " The Secretary went on to say, "We are certainly tightening up our inspection process. We are requiring a little bit more."
Fourth generation dairy farmer Bob Strasser has heard about the new rules which will focus first on fruit and produce -- and on farms much larger than his. But he worries anytime the government starts talking more regulation and red tape. Strasser says, "I'm a little bit anti-government, so here we go, look out somebody. There's not much positive I can say.
Just last year in Tennessee, the Department of Health reported more than a thousand cases of Salmonella, 112 cases of Ecoli and six cases of Listeria. Nationwide more than 30 people died from Listeria after eating contaminated cantalopes.
Strasser says even though the milk industry is already extremely regulated, when there is a problem with one type of food it affects everyone.
Vilsack says he understands some farmers are concerned about more regulation. But he says the sheer numbers of food-borne illnesses require action. He says, "I think you are going to see a much safer food system, but obviously until we get those numbers down to zero, there will always be work to do.
The federal government just opened a public comment period on the proposed rules. Then they review the comments and make potential changes. So we are still months away from the rules going into affect.
And again we are talking about those large industrial type farms.