How should the food industry respond?

FoodNavigator-USA caught up with Jackie Bowen (JB), executive director at nonprofit The Clean Label Project​, who says regulators are great at dealing with health issues caused by immediate acute exposure to foods (E.coli, salmonella, listeria), but don’t do so well when it comes to long-term exposure to low levels of environmental and industrial contaminants.

Bowen – who previously held technical, standards development and leadership roles at the WHO Collaborating Centre, NSF International, and domestic USDA organic certifier Quality Assurance International – has been accused by some industry stakeholders of ​​scaremongering,​​ but says she is trying to effect change by pushing brands to think more carefully about how they source raw materials.

Click HERE​​ to read our recent coverage of the report​​ ​​just released by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy in the House of Representatives exploring heavy metals in baby foods, which has already prompted a wave of proposed class action lawsuits​​.

FNU: Do baby food manufacturers routinely test raw materials or finished products for heavy metals?

 JB:​ Sometimes, yes, but most of the time no. The food safety regulatory fabric in America is largely focused on pathogen and microbiological contaminants (E. coli, listeria, salmonella, etc). However, it’s important to note that with the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA also implemented the Preventative Control Act, which make HARPCs a requirement.

HARPC (Hazard and Risk-Based Prevention Controls) requires virtually every food manufacturer, processer, packer, and storage facility to: identify food safety and adulteration hazards associated with their foods and processes, implement controls to minimize the hazards, verify that the controls are working, and design and implement corrective actions to address any deviations from the controls that might arise in a food safety plan.