Sustainable, Healthy, and Safe Food Systems: How We Get There

The “Food Safety Bill” – officially the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – is awaiting the Presidential signature. It was a long battle and the real work is just beginning; now all the rules, regulations, and programs have to be hammered out and put into place.

It has been obvious from the beginning that farmers and food professionals of all kinds are committed to providing the safest food possible and limiting the “unintended consequences” that such a law could bring with it.

Food safety is just part of good – and sustainable – agricultural practices; the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) recently published Sixteen Food Safety Tenets for Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems:

  • Food safety is noncompetitive and transparent.
  • Effective food safety strategies must be global in reach and effectiveness.
  • Assessment and reduction of risk is at the core of assuring food safety, at every level.
  • Total elimination of risk may be an idealized goal, but is unachievable — food safety requires constant vigilance and continual improvement.
  • No raw food product is inherently risky in and of itself.
  • Concentration in and of itself carries tremendous risk.
  • Food safety begins at the farm, on every farm.
  • We are all responsible.
  • We cannot test our way to acceptable food safety.
  • Effective policies and practices are rooted in science and proven systems of production.
  • Food safety includes chemical and physical hazards, in addition to food-borne pathogens.
  • HACCP a sused in food processing facilities is not appropriate on farms.
  • Federal efforts to enforce minimum standards of food safety must be integrated and respectful of state and local government stakeholders.
  • Government intervention alone cannot achieve absolute protection of public health.
  • Overextended regulation and intervention will harm all players in the food system.
  • A healthy societal attitude toward risk is essential to understanding and achieving a safe, secure, and sustainable food supply.

There is detail behind each one of these statements; get a copy of the document here and read more.