The Year ahead: Additional regulatory scrutiny

While increased food safety scrutiny is nothing new, the produce industry will experience more regulatory attention in 2019.

Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, DC, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes that outbreaks are more common with perishables than other foods and has made fresh produce a high priority.

There will be more oversight at both the federal and state levels, including intensified sampling of bagged salads during the FDA’s October 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. This ties in with the ramp up of Food Safety Modernization Act compliance inspections, which begin in January 2019 after a year of verification visits that were more about education than enforcement.

“It will be interesting to see how well the industry does with this kind of scrutiny,” says Michael Jantschke, director of food safety at Pro*Act, LLC in Monterey, CA.

“How the agency will enforce the [Produce Safety Rule] is somewhat theoretical now,” he says, believing the inspections will clarify what’s expected. “It’s somewhat concerning but part of the process and has to be done.”

To cap an eventful 2018, Blueprints asked produce suppliers and other experts to look into their crystal balls and weigh in on the trends and issues that will be most prominent in 2019. Karen Raugust is a freelance writer who covers business topics ranging from retailing to the food industry.