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Meetings to discuss impacts of food-safety law on growers


SACRAMENTO - The state Department of Food and Agriculture will host a pair of "listening sessions" next month on the impacts of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.



The Produce Safety Rule, affecting growers, and the Preventive Controls Rule, governing post-harvest food handling and processing, were released for public comment Jan. 4 as the first rules proposed under the 2011 act.



The produce rule will be discussed from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 9 at the International Agri-Center, 4500 South Laspina St., Tulare. Both the produce and preventive-controls rules will be addressed in an all-day meeting beginning at 9 a.m. April 11 at the Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland.



The meetings' purpose will be to provide industries with an overview of the proposed rules, solicit comments, respond to questions and inform the public about the rulemaking process, according to a CDFA news release.



The meetings will include numerous representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the CDFA and the California Department of Public Health.



The FDA asserts the produce rule will reduce the number of foodborne illnesses by 1.75 million and provide a $1.04 billion annual economic benefit. The agency estimates costs of implementing the rule will be about $460 million annually for domestic farms and about $171 million for foreign farms covered by the rule.



There is no cost to attend the meetings, but pre-registration is required because space is limited. Visit http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/fsma.html .



--Tim Hearden



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