AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has released the agenda and speakers list for the Aug. 19 listening session on the federal government’s proposed food safety rule at the Augusta State Armory.
The Food Safety Modernization Act passed in January 2011 represents the most comprehensive reform of food regulation in more than 70 years. A key component of the FSMA is a mandate to shift food safety efforts from reaction to prevention. The focus of the proposed safety rule is fresh fruit and vegetables.
The proposed Produce Safety Rule will affect Maine produce growers and packers, and individuals will have the opportunity to ask questions. DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will convene the three-hour session at 9:30 a.m. The session will feature remarks from members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine, and others.
“The proposed produce safety rule will change product handling procedures for certain Maine fresh fruit and vegetable growers and packers,” said Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, who will be the meeting’s host. “This is an important opportunity to hear from key individuals from with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who are preparing federal rules and for Maine farmers to offer comments.”
The act directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to establish science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of raw agricultural commodities. In response to this directive, FDA developed a proposed rule known as the Produce Safety Rule which focuses on measures that produce farmers and packers should take to prevent the contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rule proposes five sets of standards designed to address significant routes of microbial contamination of produce. The five sets of standards are: (1) agricultural water; (2) biological soil amendments; (3) employee health and hygiene; (4) animal intrusion into growing areas; and (5) equipment, tools and buildings.
On Jan. 4, 2013, the FDA released the proposed rule for public comment. The agency has been strongly encouraged by most of the New England Congressional members, including Maine’s delegation, to hold listening sessions such as this to hear from more farmers. At the meeting, Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine, will present information about the rule.
State Agriculture Departments will be active partners in implementing food and safety programs to help growers comply with the new rules.
Questions about the event can be answered by contacting Ellis Additon at (207) 287-7574. For those not able not attend the listening session, comments can be made directly to the FDA at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/
Maine Listening Session on Proposed Produce Rule Augusta Armory August 19, 2013
9:30 a.m. Welcome/Opening Remarks – Walt Whitcomb Maine Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
9:40 a.m. - Remarks by Members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation
9:50 a.m. - Opening Remarks – Michael R. Taylor FDA/Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine
10:10 a.m. - Presentation on Proposed Rule for Produce Samir Assar, Director, Produce Safety Staff, FDA
10:30 a.m. - Presentation on Proposed Preventive Controls Rule Jenny Scott, Senior Advisor, Produce Safety Staff, FDA
10:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Q&A
12:15- 12:30 p.m. Closing Remarks