FDA food safety proposals will affect Hawaii growers

FDA food safety proposals will affect Hawaii growers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Food and Drug Administration believes fighting the war on bacterial contamination of food begins on the farm.

Its new proposed rules will require growers to follow enforceable safety standards covering water, waste, workers and wildlife.

"These are just good common sense rules to have like, you will have hand washing stations. Every restaurant is required to do it. You will have restrooms for your employees," Olomana Gardens owner Glenn Martinez said.

In addition, irrigation water must be clean, and animals won't be allowed in areas where crops are grown.

Hawaii Farm Bureau president Dean Okimoto said the proposals look good on the surface, but you have to dig deeper.

"It's going to dramatically increase the cost to farmers. Of course, that's going to reflect in food prices in the long run," he said.

Martinez is an organic farmer. He looked at the FDA's basic guidelines and likes what he sees.

"We've been living under the threat of an axe hanging over our heads, that the Feds were going to release some rules, and we'd have 30 days to comply or be shut down. The good news is it's not that way at all," he said.

Farmers have 120 days to make suggestions to the FDA before the rules are finalized.

Right now, different stores have different food safety regulations. Okimoto wants a single certification on produce that all Hawaii buyers accept.

"If you're going to all of these markets it becomes very expensive. Thousands and thousands of dollars to a farmer to just get their product into two different markets," he said.

The FDA said the rules are based on science and risk management. It will be at least a couple of years before they grow from proposals to laws of the land.

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