Pricey monetary penalties are just one of many concerns over the Congressional
passage of the latest food safety regulations. By April Terreri
ET AGAINST THE BACKDROP of recent food-contamination impact such onerous regulation would have upon our small business
incidences including the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) community, especially during this economic slump,” cautions Anne
tragedy that claimed nine lives and sickened hundreds more Holloway, vice president of government affairs for American Wholesale
people, Congress recently passed HR 2749—the Food Safety Marketers Association (AWMA) in Fairfax, VA.
Enhancement Act of 2009 (FSEA). Concerns over the resolution include additional fees, operational
The PCA debacle, the largest recall of food products ever in the histo- costs and harsh monetary penalties; increased recordkeeping; and a
ry of the country, stemmed from salmonella poisoning of peanut butter one-size-ﬁts-all approach to liability that could disproportionately impact
the company manufactured. “Consumer conﬁdence had been shaken some companies along the supply chain, especially companies whose
and Congress felt it had to act,” explains Michael Sansolo, a Washing- responsibility is limited to storing and moving the ﬁnished goods. Some
ton-based industry consultant and former senior vice president of the provisions would not even contribute to the overall goal of food safety,
Food Marketing Institute (FMI). note contenders of speciﬁcs within the bill’s language.
But do some provisions reﬂect a knee-jerk reaction? Many in the So how exactly will food distributors be impacted? To ﬁnd out, we
food logistics industry feel that Congress should put the brakes on the asked AWMA, FMI, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA),
movement of this resolution, which is on a fast track to passage. Once the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) and the
the Senate version (S-510) passes, the House and Senate bills will move International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA).
to a conference committee, where the ﬁnal bill will be written.
“We are concerned over attempts to rush legislation through Con- Understanding The Food Supply Chain
gress without the proper vetting and consideration relating to the Many concerns exist in the industry because of Congress’ appar-
26 SEPTEMBER 2009 • F www.foodlogistics.com
ent limited understanding of the food supply chain and the differ- the products in between is assuming liability for safe storage and trans-
ing roles and associated liabilities of companies along that long and port. Congress does not understand that the supply chain has a large
complex chain. number of businesses that occupy the area of logistics not related to the
“They view the supply chain as if there are only two players—the sale or purchase of products.”
shipper and the receiver,” states Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Convenience store distributors: AWMA represents convenience
Chicago-based International Warehouse Logistics Association. “They store distributors, with members representing over $85 billion annually
don’t understand there are many others involved in the movement of in U.S. product sales, who are gravely concerned with some provisions.
food products, including truckers, warehouses, brokers and retailers.” “Many of our members have small, family-
This limited understanding resulted in the bill’s unfair stance regard- owned businesses and the greatly expanded
ing the extent to which a particular company is liable. Contenders main- regulations and recordkeeping provisions
tain liability should reﬂect a company’s ownership and knowledge of would be unduly burdensome while providing
product makeup. little or no real beneﬁt to consumer safety,” Hol-
AWMA, IFDA and IWLA, disproportionately and negatively affected loway contends.
by the bill, are working assiduously to have the language changed to re- Under the Public Health Security and Bio-
ﬂect their respective limited liab