New FDA regulations aim to make food safer, but come at a price - WFLA News Channel 8

New FDA regulations aim to make food safer, but come at a price

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N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler

Far too frequently we hear about recalls on food and outbreaks of bacteria making customers sick. New federal regulations are going into effect with hopes of preventing illnesses, but it comes at a price.

From listeria in cantaloupe to E. coli in spinach, bacteria outbreaks are making Americans sick and that has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration making changes.

"We're talking about microbial testing on the farm, which has never been done before," said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

At the annual North Carolina Food Safety Forum, one of the main topics was new federal standards for produce farmers. 

The unregulated industry will soon be regulated, from water to soil to equipment and testing of fruits and vegetables for harmful bacteria. 

"There's going to be added expense, certainly (and) added work that's going to have to be done," Troxler said. 

The added expense is one of the main concerns at the forum. It's not just health professionals or scientists that are worried about the bottom line. Farmers and grocery stores could be impacted by the new regulations as well. 

"If it's only going to be implemented in this country and we import from foreign countries that don't have these expenses, we can't compete," said James Russell Boyd, a Washington County farmer. 

Troxler says he knows of farmers spending half a million dollars to upgrade to the new regulations, but adds the cost of losing the public trust with outbreaks is long-lasting. He also says consumers will need to step up as well. 

"What's the best advice to give a consumer to make sure what they're eating is properly prepared? I think the best thing is wash, wash, wash, wash," he said. 

Troxler says that includes fruits and vegetables as well as, and most importantly, your hands. 

The new regulations only apply to farms that sell more than a half-million products per year.

Melanie Sanders

Melanie anchors the 6 PM news. Her "What's Next" series features an engaging approach to storytelling and highlights the leaders in innovation who are shaping our future. Check it out HERE! More>>

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