Consumers are increasingly aware of the risks of the food supply chain. The Food Security Modernization Act, recently signed by President Obama, is a major step forward in addressing these issues. As the public demands stricter regulation and oversight, producers and producers are concerned about the impact of these new powers on food handling and transportation across the United States.
The Food Safety Modernization Act aims to give the federal government more powers to actively prevent food-borne illnesses, not just to clean them up. Increasing public concern over food security adds to the controversy between consumer advocates and corporate interests.
Some advocate shortening the supply chain by encouraging consumers to buy directly from the producer. While this may at first seem to promote greater food security, closer scrutiny may reveal greater pitfalls. What does the consumer know about the safe handling of food? To what extent are the risks associated with foodborne diseases being aware? Without a good understanding of safe handling and transportation practices, the consumer can have a good idea of a high-risk situation without even realizing it.
Fortunately, with the technology currently available, tracing food products in real time throughout the food supply chain is not only possible, but realistic. Many systems in place for inventory management in material handling track a product from the producer or producer to the retailer and eventually to the consumer's table. Bar codes have been in use for a long time and their use could increase significantly with the introduction of the FDA's new record keeping regulations.
This new legislation gives the FDA broad access to the archives of food producers. They will have full access to all records related to food manufacturing and processing. Other areas include food processing, packaging and transportation. Any step in the food supply chain with a reasonable probability of exposure or contamination is subject to review and regulation by the FDA. These records must be provided to the FDA upon request.
Prior to the coming into force of the new law, the FDA only had access to food records that, in their opinion, had been adulterated. Now, under the Food Safety Modernization Act, if they have reason to believe that a food product is contaminated, they can apply for registration. This has lowered the bar when the FDA can enter the supply chain and act to prevent contaminated foods from reaching the public.