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Joe Taylor Southlake, owner of Southlake's Wood Fired Pizza in Sarasota, Fla., is speaking out on new regulations from the Food and Drug Administration that aim to reform the nation's food safety system.
This year, the organization adjusted policies regarding which fruits and vegetables would become subject to strict new rules. It determined that foods that are mostly consumed raw would be included under the new regulations, while those that are frequently cooked and processed did not need to be included.
Many farmers have spoken out against the new policies, particularly as they relate to the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act, which was written to prevent food-bourne illnesses.
Under these new regulations, farmers will have to devote more energy to items that have been known to cause deadly outbreaks in the past, such as spinach and cantaloupes. Items that have a nearly perfect safety record, grow above the ground, and have protective skins will get less focus than in other years.
"It's important to protect the American consumer, and the government needs to try to take a more defensive approach to food-borne illness. However, it's also important to ensure that the regulations are fair to all food producers, and will not cause severe harm to some individuals or groups," Southlake said in a statement.
Apple farmer Phil Glaize added, "Our product is quite safe. We're perfectly willing to look at ways to make it safer. However, what's being proposed is very onerous and expensive. The costs would end up getting passed on to the consumer, if we didn't go out of business first."
The FDA has said the new rules are more of a starting point, and that the organization is open to making alterations to create a science-based system that is more effectively able to adapt to different crops, different regions of the country, and different growing conditions.
Michael R. Taylor, a top safety official with the FDA, said it will take some time to get the rules right.
Read more about food safety.