January 14, 2011

Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act Good For Small Businesses

The Food Modernization Act which was passed last month is aimed at ensuring America’s food safety.  The Act requires food producers to register with the FDA, gives the FDA power to inspect facilities as they deem necessary, and requires producers and manufacturers to have extensive food safety plans in place.   Until the inclusion of the Tester Amendment, not only were large manufacturers going to be held to these standards, but so were mom and pop farmers market booths.   

The Tester Amendment, named for Sen. John Tester from Montana who introduced it, exempts small food producers and farmers from the Food Modernization Act if they make less then $500,000 annually, if they sell directly to a farmers market or to an in-state grocery store, or if they sell their products within 275 miles of where it was produced.

This isn’t to say that mom and pop farmers market booths and other small food businesses shouldn’t be held to exacting food safety standards, but the cost for small businesses to implement this act would have been crippling.   Hopefully this new act will not only make sure the food we eat is safe, but also help keep small food business entrepreneurship and small family farms alive and viable.