Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a public meeting held by our colleagues at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide an update for the pending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This law will make significant changes to the country’s food safety laws, including the first-ever regulation of fresh produce and a more proactive approach to preventing food-borne illnesses. I spoke on behalf of my agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – as part of a panel of domestic and international officials who provided the government’s perspective on how we would like to see the final law implemented.
With several of the law’s rules set to become final later this summer and early in the fall, the FDA is still seeking comments and suggestions for the best way to implement FSMA. The meeting, which included breakout sessions where participants could start an open dialogue about the implementation, is part of the FDA’s emphasis on educating the industry before regulating it. Read more »
Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central, and Mississippi flyways (or migratory bird paths). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections to be low. No human cases of these HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally.
Anyone who owns or works with poultry—whether on a commercial farm, in the wild, or at a hobby/backyard farm—should take proper steps to keep HPAI from spreading. The best way to protect your birds is to follow good biosecurity. Even if you are already familiar with biosecurity, now is a good time to double-check your practices. You are the best protection your birds have! Read more »
Introducing the USDA Specialty Crops Inspection Division which highlights the various services that AMS provides the produce industry.
Ensuring that its food meets the demands of its retailers and the consumers who eat it is essential to the success of any produce business. This builds consumer trust and helps retailers confidently supply the food we all eat. To help out on this front, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers audits through the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) & Good Handling Practices (GHPs) Audit Verification Program.
A voluntary service provided by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), GAPs audits verify that fruits and vegetables are grown, packed, handled, and stored safely. The audits certify that operations are following guidance from the Food and Drug Administration and industry-recognized food safety practices that can minimize the risks of food-borne illnesses. AMS Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) Division employees accomplish this through activities like evaluating food safety plans, walking the farm looking for food safety risks and performing unannounced visits to farms and facilities. The audits focus on waste management, such as animal manure; water quality; wildlife; and worker health and hygiene. Read more »
Pickles of many kinds fill grocery store shelves, all of them safe for consumers thanks to the work of an ARS food safety lab in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Pickles are a popular food, but are even trendier today as more and more craft brands show up in stores and farmers’ markets all over the country. But did you know USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has helped commercial pickle-makers, from small brands to the nation’s largest, meet the highest standards of food safety?
While pickling—storing in an acid liquid, usually vinegar—has been recognized as a food-preserver since long before the discovery of bacteria, the kind of data that today’s precise food safety standards require was not established until recently. Read more »
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work to keep markets open to U.S. products. Recently, an interagency team resolved an issue with Morocco, keeping a $126 million market open for American butter, cheese and other dairy products.
U.S. agricultural exports continue to be a bright spot for America’s economy, worth a record $152.5 billion in fiscal year 2014. That’s why USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work so hard to keep these export markets open. So in 2011, when Morocco requested that USDA use a new dairy export certificate that we could not endorse, we launched into action. Our goal was to protect an export market worth $126 million annually while preserving our close relationship with a valued trading partner.
Morocco is the 13th largest export market for our dairy products, and U.S. dairy exports are the fastest growing export category to that country. U.S. companies export many dairy commodities to Morocco, such as butter, cheese and skim milk powder, as well as dairy ingredients such as milk protein and whey protein products. Read more »
By clarifying expectations for organic certifiers, USDA’s instruction ensures that all organic products are labeled consistently, assure consumers that all organic labeling requirements are being met and provide a fair market for all organic operations.
When consumers see the word “organic” on a product package or label, they have expectations about what is inside the package. The National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), protects the integrity of the organic label by ensuring that organic producers and handlers meet consumer expectations. The NOP recently published an instruction that will bring more clarity to products with brand names containing the word “organic.”
Organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. They must be produced and handled by operations that are certified as complying with the USDA organic regulations; made without the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge; and use substances allowed by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List). Read more »