IRVINE, CA. (November 19, 2010)
Statement from Western Growers’ president and CEO Tom Nassif:
“The safety of America’s supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts is and always will be the highest priority of Western Growers’ members. Our association and other produce industry leaders have worked diligently over the past two and half years to ensure that any federal food safety legislation employs a scientific, risk-based approach to food safety requirements. However, Western Growers must oppose S. 510, The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, if it includes an amendment offered by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and currently under Senate consideration. The Tester amendment exempts small production and processing operations that sell food locally to consumers who patronize grocery stores, restaurants and farmers’ markets. The amendment rejects universally recognized food safety principals such as the importance of good worker hygiene, surface sanitation and temperature controls regardless of operation size or proximity to market. Microbial contamination knows no boundaries. It can affect the smallest farm or garden plot as well as a larger operation. It can come from your backyard or travel long distances. It can be present in an organic or conventional crop. It may be present in raw or processed food. Any time it occurs, someone, somewhere may be at risk. To an industry that is dedicated to continuously improving on-farm food safety practices, inclusion of exemptions from food safety laws is a huge step backward and will send the wrong message to the food industry, but most importantly to the American consumer. “
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and about 75 percent of the fresh fruits and tree nuts in Arizona and California, about one-half of the nation’s supply of fresh produce.