(April 19) NOGALES, Ariz. — The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas is telling its members that the association will encourage Congress to exercise caution when regulating the food industry through proposed changes to food law contained in bioterrorism bills.

“Certain elements (of the bills) weren’t really thought out,” said Lee Frankel, the association’s president. “It’s a reflection on the wake of terrorist attacks and the climate in Washington. They try to throw in a lot of generally decent ideas, but a lot of them aren’t well researched. Some of the proposed laws may do more harm than good at the end of the day by creating new costs without doing anything to improve public health.”

Frankel cites proposals congressional conferees are considering that would exclude domestically grown food.

“The Food and Drug Administration should notify states if they find something troublesome with imported food, but there’s no such mandate to put out a bulletin when domestic food is found faulty,” he said.
The association will try to challenge House and Senate conferees to closely examine the bills, Frankel said.

Frankel said a number of proposals make sense. He cited providing the Food and Drug Administration resources to quickly test suspected contaminated foods and give the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Service a coordinated computer database to track emerging food illness trends.