Wheat growers are committed to ensuring that the U.S. food supply remains the safest, most affordable and most abundant in the world.
A number of scares in recent years in products ranging from pet food to favorite fruits and vegetables have caused many in the public and in Congress to call for a revamp of our nation’s food safety system. NAWG has been engaged in these discussions to ensure any new or amended regulation of the food system makes sense for farm operators and will have a legitimate impact of the safety of our food supply.
New Food Safety Legislation
On Jan. 4, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The law requires FDA to issue regulations on the sanitary transportation of food no later than 18 months after the date of enactment. Although not finalized by the statutory deadline, FDA has started the process of developing these regulations, which could cover the transportation of grain from the farm to the first point of delivery.
The law also sets into motion new requirements for food product tracing. FDA contracted with the Institute of Food Technologists to conduct two product tracing pilot programs. The report on the traceability pilots was submitted to FDA in June 2012, with a proposed rule on traceability expected in January 2013.
However, since farms are not food facilities, they are not expected to create or maintain new records. During an active investigation of a food borne illness outbreak, farms may be asked to identify potential immediate recipients of food.
The FDA is prohibited from implementing product-tracing requirements that would alter the normal practice of commingling of grains and grain products.
Wheat Food Safety
The food safety risk posed by raw grains and milled cereal grains is extremely low. Almost all milled products are subject to a kill step such as baking, frying or cooking before being consumed. Unlike fruit or vegetables, raw grain or flours are not considered ready-to-eat products.
More information on this topic from the North American Millers’ Association is available here.
Information for Consumers
USDA and other agencies have created a food safety online hub for consumers, available online at http://foodsafety.gov/. This Web site provides a variety of information about what is being done by the government and industry to keep food safe and about what consumers should do to ensure they are handling food properly.