Idaho onion processor

Onions are sorted at a packing facility in Parma, Idaho. An Idaho House committee has printed a bill aimed at delaying by two years the transfer of processor inspections under the Food Safety Modernization Act to the state Department of Agriculture.

BOISE — The Idaho House Agricultural Affairs Committee on Jan. 22 voted to print a bill that would extend by two years the deadline for shifting food manufacturer inspections to the state Department of Agriculture.

The current deadline is Sept. 29, 2019. House Bill 38 would extend it to 2021.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently contracts Idaho food manufacturer inspections to the state Department of Health and Welfare. The department subcontracts them to public health districts.

State legislation passed in 2018 transitions this authority to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

Elizabeth Criner, representing Food Northwest, said the state Department of Agriculture needs more time because it is not receiving the information it needs from FDA to prepare for the transition by the original deadline.

“We would rather take the time to do it properly and ensure that the transition goes well, and that food safety and the public are protected,” Criner said.

Portland-based Food Northwest is a food-processing trade association with members in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The inspections are part of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.

field reporter, SW Idaho and SE Oregon

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