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Small Businesses Spooked By New Food Safety Rule

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 8/7/2013

Food Safety Modernization Act regulations would require certain types of small businesses to develop comprehensive risk management programs, could put small farms and other operations at risk.

The prevention of unsanitary practices and foodborne illnesses is a high priority for government agencies, small businesses and consumers. Without government regulation and oversight, the prevalence of food-related incidents would spike and create PR nightmares for businesses in the industries from which these events originate.

Food Safety New Laws Impact on Business

But while small businesses recognize the value of government regulations, they also know that overregulation can jeopardize their ability to sustain their operations, making it nearly impossible for them to compete with larger producers. In many cases, government regulations go beyond basic quality control management and require small businesses to enact measures that are more easily accomplished by larger companies.

A recent proposed rule by the FDA is causing concern among food processing facilities and small businesses involved in the production of food products. The Hazard Analysis Risk-based Prevention Controls (HARPC) rule, part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act passed in response to Salmonella outbreaks, is now requiring facilities that manufacture, pack, bottle or store food to develop comprehensive risk management programs detailing proposed actions for cataloguing, monitoring and resolving potential risks.

Although the rule exempts farms that grow and harvest their own food, it does not exempt any operation that participates in manufacturing processes like irradiation, cutting, coring, chopping, slicing, artificial ripening, distilling, pasteurizing or homogenizing--which could include many agricultural operations that currently fall into the small business category.

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the new rule will incur $701 million in additional costs during the first year. Industry-wide, experts agree that small and medium-sized food processors will be most impacted by HARPC.

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