SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA rep testifies at FDA hearing on food safety

| 4/13/2007

Friday, April 13 , 2007 – When a load of produce is recalled because of potential contamination, what’s a trucker to do?

That’s one of the questions Joe Rajkovacz posed to the FDA during his testimony Friday, April 13, at a public meeting on regulatory options and the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables in College Park, MD.

Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for OOIDA, said key players in the debate on whether to allow the produce industry to regulate itself or to impose mandatory federal oversight have largely excluded truckers, who are a key link in the food supply chain.

He also addressed potential entry points for food-borne pathogens, including the lack of regulations regarding sanitary conditions at loading and unloading facilities that produce truckers face on a daily basis. After using filthy bathrooms or portable facilities with no running water, soap or towels, many drivers are then forced to start stacking pallets of fresh produce.

“The lack of sanitary bathroom facilities and hygienic conditions in which to work is all too common in the fresh produce industry,” he said. “We’ve been forced to work in that filthy world for decades.”

In his closing statement, Rajkovacz told the FDA that “the produce industry has exhibited a historical lack of responsibility when dealing with the men and women charged with safely and efficiently hauling America’s fresh produce.”

“It is hard to imagine a solution to fresh produce safety without intervention at the highest level of government,” he said.

For additional information and a first-hand account of Rajkovacz’s testimony to the FDA, read Land Line’scontinuing coverage at landlinemag.com next week.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer