The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in 2011, but its rules won't be in place until mid-2015. Ostensibly, FSMA offered a paradigm shift in the food safety sector, preventing contamination instead of only responding to it.
Part of the legislation applies to handling animal feed. The Food and Drug Administration has a proposed rule under comment until March 31st, which would address regulatory gaps on producing safe animal feed, as well as addressing hazards at facilities that handle it.
Grain elevators would be exempt from the proposed rule, although grain quality specialist and professor at Iowa State University, Dr. Charles Hurburgh, points out that the wording is a little broader than the grain industry would prefer.
He says, "But the proposal right now, exempts grain elevators, and here are the words, 'That only store for further distribution.' The hangup is 'only store'. Because the question is drying, is aeration, is cleaning, is that only storage? This is a debate right now, whether or not the exemption can be written such that all the operations making grain storable will qualify under that exemption."
But he says an exemption from FDA may not matter in the end; similar to pressures of audits and international standards commonplace in the flour milling industry, Hurburgh says regulatory pressure on other parts of the production chain may lead to the adoption of standards without direct FDA involvement.
He says, "I think we will get to the place where the market won't want a completely exempt entity in the middle. If you've got to meet standards through, I think the market pressure, contractual pressure, will gradually move it back. I think that grain elevators will gradually face requirements from their buyers, bigger buyers first obviously and then on down through the line."