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KDA partners with federal government to improve food safety in Kentucky

Ag. Department will lead state efforts to implement produce safety standards
Kentucky Ag. Commissioner Ryan Quarles

FRANKFORT (July 19, 2018) — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help Kentucky food producers comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Under the cooperative agreement, the FDA will release a total of $2.84 million to Kentucky over the next three years. The funds will be divided among the KDA, the University of Kentucky (UK), and the Food Safety Branch of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH).

“This partnership will help Kentucky step up our efforts to prevent foodborne disease,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “I’m especially pleased that the KDA will serve as the lead agency for Kentucky’s efforts to implement the Produce Safety Rule. Kentucky farmers strive to produce fruits and vegetables that have been handled safely from the farm to the consumer. The KDA and our state partners are best suited to help them accomplish that through an education and awareness approach tailored to our producers and their needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach handed down from Washington.”

The cooperative agreement with Kentucky was one of three the FDA announced last week – the others were with Hawaii and Mississippi – bringing the number of partner states to 46, along with one territory, and raising nationwide federal funding to $32.5 million.

Signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act shifted the focus of federal regulators from responding to cases of food contamination to preventing them. The Produce Safety Rule is designed to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The cooperative agreements aim to help the partner states implement a modern produce safety system and develop and provide education, outreach, and technical assistance to farmers who sell or import their products in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans get sick from a foodborne illness each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses cost more than $15.6 billion each year.