I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Government Coming to Harass You!

My husband mentioned a story he heard on NPR about food safety yesterday. Then this morning he reminded me about it and said it was on the NPR website. While enjoying my coffee and kicking my cat away from my feet I read the the article . All in all, a pretty vague commentary about upcoming regulations that will impact agriculture and food processing in the future. The article is here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/01/04/168607713/fda-to-release-rules-to-strengthen-safety-of-food-supply

The comments to the article, however, provided a dose of reality. Most were written by industry representatives, farms and businesses directly impacted by the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). When a microbiologist made and insightful comment about ways food can be contaminated another person "respectfully" disagreed asking that she cite sources and stating she had a vested interest. Yet, the farmers and industry reps commented in vague terms crying big government and the demise of the small farmer.

The FSMA exempts small farmers and Good Agricultural Practices (part of FSMA) stress mainly employee health and hygiene and uncontaminated water.   Here is the list of key concepts for produce safety from the FDA website:

  • Irrigation and other agricultural water
  • Farm worker hygiene
  • Manure and other additions to the soil
  • Intrusion of animals in the growing fields.
  • Sanitation conditions affecting buildings, equipment and tools

The link to the entire article on the FDA website is below:

Having been in unpermitted facilities and facilities that choose not to follow state and federal law I can say with all honesty that these laws are necessary. You are welcome to disagree.

A few examples: An unpermitted warehouse that had roaches crawling out of pallets of food. not one or two insects - hundreds. A permitted facility infested with rats that did not clean up any rodent feces or dead rodents until forced to clean by closure of the affected area. Facility managers that turn off hot water to the facility then lie and say the "circuit just blew". Packing houses that have layers of mold and grime on walls with lizard droppings in processing areas.

Then there are always the non permitted facilities that we stumble on that have no hand wash sinks in processing areas, no hot water and sometimes no clue of food safety.

Really, too much regulation??? Just because you think you are doing it "right" does not make it so. I can't tell you how many times someone tells me they have been in business "forever" and nobody has become ill. That same person then turns around scratches their body or coughs in their hand and returns right back to handling food. No hand washing and not realizing what they have just done.

 Why am I mad? Because the crappy places we see are not news. Our jobs do not provide large amounts of capital to the state thus we have NO lobbying voice. We in affect have no voice. We are viewed  simply as "the government" coming to harass you and destroy your business.    

Why do we need these laws? Here is a simple test. The next time you are in a public restroom watch how people wash their hands or even if they wash their hands.Do the sinks even have hot water, do people wash for at least 20 seconds and actually make suds? And they are now going to the salad bar that you also ordered.

If we can't trust people to even wash their hands properly how can we trust industry to police themselves without the laws? And who will be screaming when the next outbreak occurs?


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