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PMA launches redesigned website, provides better access to resources

pmvidIn response to member feedback and as part of its new strategic plan implementation, the Produce Marketing Association unveiled its redesigned website (www.pma.com) Tuesday, May 27. With a fresh new design, completely new structure, a fully functioning search feature and mobile-ready access, the website is part of the association’s ongoing efforts to bring a complete portfolio of value to members of the fresh produce and floral industries.

“Over the past several years, we’ve made a conscious effort to share the wealth of industry resources the association offers in addition to all our conventions, shows and meetings,” Bryan Silbermann, chief executive officer of PMA, said in a press release. “One of the challenges we had is providing members with a fully functioning and easy-to-use ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can access those resources. Our members told us they needed a global information hub that’s intuitive and engaging—and we’re responding to those needs through this complete rebuilding of pma.com.”

Changes to the website include the following:

  • Improved search functionality. Locating various pieces of value is made easier with the enhanced search engine.
  • Connections to related content. The new website is smart, and as Web users have come to expect the site now serves up related articles and information to members exploring topics on anything from global trade, to food safety to retail.
  • Mobile design. Members said they needed mobile access to retrieve information in the field, so the new website includes responsive design, making it easy to navigate on any mobile device.
  • Spanish translation. Members across the globe are in need of easy access to information, so the new pma.com will have much of its content translated into Spanish. Information in Chinese and Portuguese will also roll out as the information on the website continues to grow.

And, to give members more of the resources they’ve asked for, the website will house a collection of new information, including three new consumer trend reports from the Hartman Research Group. Outlook on the Millennial Consumer 2014 is available on the website now, and members can expect to have two additional reports from Hartman this summer: Organic and Natural as well as Digital Lives. These reports provide critical insights into consumer behaviors driving fresh fruit and vegetable sales.

Members can also expect to see more information sharing on the site with the integration of blogs, social media and third-party news.

“We’re here to support the needs of our members by connecting them to experts, ideas, trends and talent,” said Silbermann. “We know produce and floral companies are focused on building consumer demand for the products they grow, ship and sell, and as the industry’s marketing association, we’re committed to providing resources that help reach that goal.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Why FDA Needs FSMA Resources Now

(Editor’s note: The following is in response to “Experts Debate Whether Food Safety Funding is Adequate,” published April 24, 2014, on Food Safety News.)

Two questions regarding the adequacy of food safety funding for the Food and Drug Administration were asked at last week’s National Food Policy Conference.

I would like to answer both of them.

First, the question was raised whether FDA really needed more money when it had spent only $ 7 million of the “extra $ 40 million” Congress gave FDA in 2013 in a special, one-time appropriation.

The actual amount FDA received in June 2013 was $ 37 million, due to $ 3 million in rescission cuts. Congress appropriated this one-time funding without restriction as to when it could be spent. It has played a crucial role in maintaining the momentum of implementation for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including essential support for the FSMA rulemaking process and guidance development, outreach to our stakeholders, the Produce Safety Alliance and other education and technical assistance infrastructure, state capacity building, and risk-based decision-making tools and data.

Michael Taylor

By September 2013 (the end of FY 13), we had spent the $ 7 million to which the question refers. Since that time, we have committed an additional $ 23 million, and, in the next several months, the remaining $ 7 million likely will be dedicated toward additional outreach and guidance development, technical assistance to stakeholders, and data collection to support development and implementation of the FSMA rules.

Second, the question was asked: “Why does FDA need money to implement FSMA when we don’t even know what FSMA is yet?”

Congress was quite clear about what FSMA was intended to achieve, and it is much more than new regulations. The mandate includes:

  • Shifting the focus of FDA’s food safety oversight from reaction and after-the-fact enforcement to risk-based prevention of food safety problems;
  • Creating a national, integrated food safety system that leverages state, local and tribal food safety efforts, and ensures nationwide consistency in oversight, and,
  • Implementing an entirely new import oversight program that includes importers taking greater care of the foods they bring into the U.S., greater FDA presence overseas, and facilitation of trade in safe food.

Thus, the modern food safety system envisioned by Congress requires a true transformation in how FDA approaches its day-to-day food safety work and how it works with its government partners and the food industry to achieve high rates of compliance with the new FSMA rules. This includes a new compliance strategy focused on public health outcomes and based on clear guidance, education, and technical assistance to help industry understand and voluntarily comply with the new requirements, minimizing the need for FDA to take enforcement measures.

Investment in this transformation cannot wait until the produce and preventive controls rules become final in late 2015. We are actively planning the transformation now, but, to implement it on a timely basis, we must make serious investments in 2015 and 2016 in FDA training and expertise, state training and capacity building, technical assistance infrastructure, and the new import oversight system.

Training in the details of the final rules will come after the rules are finalized in late 2015 and before implementation in food facilities begins in late 2016, but this is just one part of the larger investment needed for FSMA to be successfully implemented and avoid unwanted delays and disruptions in implementation.

Food Safety News

Why FDA Needs FSMA Resources Now

(Editor’s note: The following is in response to “Experts Debate Whether Food Safety Funding is Adequate,” published April 24, 2014, on Food Safety News.)

Two questions regarding the adequacy of food safety funding for the Food and Drug Administration were asked at last week’s National Food Policy Conference.

I would like to answer both of them.

First, the question was raised whether FDA really needed more money when it had spent only $ 7 million of the “extra $ 40 million” Congress gave FDA in 2013 in a special, one-time appropriation.

The actual amount FDA received in June 2013 was $ 37 million, due to $ 3 million in rescission cuts. Congress appropriated this one-time funding without restriction as to when it could be spent. It has played a crucial role in maintaining the momentum of implementation for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including essential support for the FSMA rulemaking process and guidance development, outreach to our stakeholders, the Produce Safety Alliance and other education and technical assistance infrastructure, state capacity building, and risk-based decision-making tools and data.

Michael Taylor

By September 2013 (the end of FY 13), we had spent the $ 7 million to which the question refers. Since that time, we have committed an additional $ 23 million, and, in the next several months, the remaining $ 7 million likely will be dedicated toward additional outreach and guidance development, technical assistance to stakeholders, and data collection to support development and implementation of the FSMA rules.

Second, the question was asked: “Why does FDA need money to implement FSMA when we don’t even know what FSMA is yet?”

Congress was quite clear about what FSMA was intended to achieve, and it is much more than new regulations. The mandate includes:

  • Shifting the focus of FDA’s food safety oversight from reaction and after-the-fact enforcement to risk-based prevention of food safety problems;
  • Creating a national, integrated food safety system that leverages state, local and tribal food safety efforts, and ensures nationwide consistency in oversight, and,
  • Implementing an entirely new import oversight program that includes importers taking greater care of the foods they bring into the U.S., greater FDA presence overseas, and facilitation of trade in safe food.

Thus, the modern food safety system envisioned by Congress requires a true transformation in how FDA approaches its day-to-day food safety work and how it works with its government partners and the food industry to achieve high rates of compliance with the new FSMA rules. This includes a new compliance strategy focused on public health outcomes and based on clear guidance, education, and technical assistance to help industry understand and voluntarily comply with the new requirements, minimizing the need for FDA to take enforcement measures.

Investment in this transformation cannot wait until the produce and preventive controls rules become final in late 2015. We are actively planning the transformation now, but, to implement it on a timely basis, we must make serious investments in 2015 and 2016 in FDA training and expertise, state training and capacity building, technical assistance infrastructure, and the new import oversight system.

Training in the details of the final rules will come after the rules are finalized in late 2015 and before implementation in food facilities begins in late 2016, but this is just one part of the larger investment needed for FSMA to be successfully implemented and avoid unwanted delays and disruptions in implementation.

Food Safety News

Taylor: FDA Needs More Resources for FSMA Implementation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have enough resources to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said Wednesday in an appearance before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

In answering a rapid succession of yes or no questions from U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Taylor said that the agency has enough resources to issue the final rules, but not to implement FSMA.

“We will continue efforts to make the best use of the resources we have, but simply put, we cannot achieve FDA’s vision of a modern food safety system and a safer food supply without a significant increase in resources,” Taylor said in his initial statement.

During his time, Dingell asked Taylor to submit details about what the agency would require. When FSMA was approved in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA would need an increase of more than $ 580 million to fund the expanded food safety activities.

Importer oversight, developing partnerships with state and local agencies, retraining inspectors and providing technical assistance to small growers and processors  were examples Taylor put forward for where additional resources are needed.

Taylor also received many questions from committee members about the produce safety rule. Several members noted their disappointment with it while also praising FDA’s decision to reissue revised language in the produce and preventive controls for human food rules.

Imports were another a hot topic for members such as U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) who was keen to assure his constituents that foreign producers would be held to the same standards as domestic ones.

And, in response to a question from U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) about why it took two years from the time FSMA was signed into law in January 2011 to begin releasing regulations, Taylor stated that it was a function of the complexity of the issues.

Implementation of FSMA is set to begin after all the final rules are published in June 2015.

Food Safety News

Back to School: Resources for Safe Lunches and Snacks

The nation’s school children are returning to classrooms in droves this week. Kids and parents pack millions of school lunches daily, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released information about how to keep those lunches safe.

In addition, the folks from the partnership for Food Safety Education are hosting a “Home Food Safety Mythbusters” webinar to help kids stay safe when preparing snacks and other meals after school. During the webinar, experts will present the science basis behind food safety myths and facts and help to shed light on food safety behaviors of kids.

The webinar was created for National Food Safety Education Month and will take place Thursday, Sept. 5, from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Time. Continuing education credit is offered from the Commission on Dietetic Registration.

Food Safety News