Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Food Certification Pilot Program Expected to Strengthen Agriculture/Tourism Relationship

Nancy Cook Lauer wrote a focus piece on HB1471, a measure that establishes a safe food certification pilot program, in today's West Hawaii Today. The story is here. The bill was passed by the legislature, vetoed by the governor, and then passed into law through a legislative override last week.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Clift Tsuji, the chair of the House Agriculture Committee. The pilot program is aimed to help farmers successfully manage the safe food certification process so that more of their product can be sold to Hawaii hotels and restaurants.

While the article focuses on the visitor industry, it is clear that local residents are also searching for fresh, locally grown produce and products, as evidenced by the growing popularity in farmers' markets around the state.

Here are some quotes from Nancy's article:

"It's a better working environment for our employees, and it gives the consumers an extra level of confidence." Richard Ha, Hamakua Springs Country Farms.

"We recognize that our guests' tastes are evolving and our new Sustainable Menu introduces them to quality Big Island foods." Paul Matsumoto, Sheraton Keauhou Food and Beverage Director.

"In today's agricultural climate, food safety is a consumer demand and food producers must be held accountable for food-borne illnesses. Hawaii's already fragile (agricultural) industry cannot afford even one epidemic outbreak." Rep. Clift Tsuji, House Agriculture Committee Chair.

"If even one incident were to take place here where tourists got sick from eating food from any of the many restaurants or hotels that service our tourists, Hawaii would have a black eye forever." Mark Teruya, President and CEO, Armstrong Produce.

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