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The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), P.L. 111-353, is the most significant reform of the U.S. food safety laws in over 70 years. After less than two years in Congressional development, it was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. The law shifts the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. The “Final Rule” was published on November 27, 2015, becoming effective on January 26, 2016. The lengthy period of time in rule development is, in part, explained by the complexity of our food supply system, and the implications for food safety from farm-to-table. Adding to the challenge is a decentralized division of labor for ensuring a safe food supply among governmental agencies. The modern food supply system is a complex and diverse supply chain, including significant imports, science-based knowledge, and an engaged consumer. While potential benefits have been at least partially documented, the benefits of safer food are not without cost. Some of the costs will initially be borne by the agricultural sector. This collection of articles in Choices focuses on likely impacts on the agricultural sector due to implementation of the FSMA rules.


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