The F-D-A’s putting the finishing touches on new rules to track food from the field to the grocery bag. Iowa State University extension food-science specialist Sam Beattie heard the remarks of outgoing secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson last week on the risks of a terrorist attack on the nation’s food supply. Beattie says Thompson probably “over-emphasized” a little the unsafe potential of the food supply, but he notes the F-D-A in recent years has already put in place several key regulations in recent years that help ensure a safe and secure food supply. The final rule was published this week for the latest regulation, on record-keeping and verifying where the food came from and where a food handler’s shipped it to, including who did the transporting of it. That loaf of bread you buy has several key points at which the ingredients were handled. Now, Beattie says, each facility that did must document the prior handler and the next handler, and the shipping company they used to move it. Grocery stores won’t have to tell who they sold the food to, but will have to record where the store got it from. While food science helps us track down sources of food-poisoning now, the new rules are to deal with the possibility of deliberate food contamination by some terrorist. Beattie says the F-D-A will be able to trace the food very rapidly using the new tracking process.
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