The produce aisle in a grocery store.
June 7, 2023
Albany, NY

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Highlights Food Safety Efforts in Honor of World Food Safety Day

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Highlights Food Safety Efforts in Honor of World Food Safety Day

In honor of World Food Safety Day, which takes place annually on June 7, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today highlighted several actions the State has taken to enhance our food safety standards, a key focus of this year’s World Food Safety Day celebration, including launching a new partnership with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and updating our online kosher and halal registries.

Beginning today, on World Food Safety Day, the Department of Agriculture and Markets is also releasing a series of educational videos and social media posts to help consumers learn about the food safety standards the Department uses to protect New York State’s food supply.

Commissioner Ball said, “World Food Safety Day is an excellent time to highlight the work we do every day to ensure the food New Yorkers purchase and serve to their families is safe. From conducting over 35,000 inspections annually, to working closely with the FDA on foodborne illness investigations, to modernizing our kosher and halal food registries, our mission is to ensure that New Yorkers always have a safe, resilient food supply. Through our robust programs and the exceptional work of food stakeholders along the entire food supply chain, we are confident in our ability to secure a healthy food supply for all New Yorkers. I thank all our staff and many partners who work hard to keep New York’s food system strong and our food supply safe.”

Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “What we eat plays a significant role in our overall health and quality of life. I commend the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for raising awareness about the importance of food safety practices and for the groundbreaking work they do to ensure that New Yorkers purchase and consume foods that are safe, as well as aligned with their spiritual beliefs.”

To educate consumers on the importance of food safety standards, the Department is releasing a series of videos and social media posts this week to highlight the work conducted by Department staff every day to ensure the State’s food supply is safe. The Department is at the forefront of setting food safety standards in New York, with a network of food safety inspectors that annually inspect New York's over 35,000 retail food establishments, like grocery stores, as well as farms that grow, harvest, and store produce and food, dairy, and beverage manufacturing plants. The Department also, through its state-of-the-art ISO17025 accredited food laboratory, uses the latest techniques in analytical detection to protect and improve the health of  our food supply by conducting laboratory analysis of over 20,000 food samples  per year. Videos of this work, and the work of one of our partners, can be found here, here, and here. Consumers can follow along with the Department’s educational efforts on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

To enhance the efforts of its Divisions of Food Safety and Inspection, Milk Control and Dairy Services, and Food Laboratory, the Department earlier this year signed a domestic mutual reliance partnership agreement with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) 2023 Winter Policy conference. Domestic mutual reliance allows the FDA and states with comparable regulatory systems to rely on and leverage each other’s work to meet their shared public health goal of a safe national food supply. This agreement ensures a unified and coordinated approach to conducting food safety inspections in New York and marks a critical step forward in achieving an integrated food safety system in the US.

Additionally in 2023, the Department announced that it has updated its online kosher and halal food registries, which allow entities that certify food as kosher or halal to register with the Department as mandated. The registries also allow consumers to search for kosher or halal foods in New York State. Food businesses that manufacture, produce, sell, or distribute food products labeled as halal or kosher are required to register with the Department. In addition, individuals or organizations that provide certification services, including halal and kosher foods, are also required to register with the Department. During routine food safety inspections, the Department verifies establishments that certify halal and kosher foods are registered in compliance with New York's Kosher Law Protection Act of 2004 and New York State's Halal Foods Protection Act of 2005.

In addition, in 2016, New York State launched the NYS Grown & Certified program, which is administered by the Department. The NYS Grown & Certified program certifies New York’s farmers for growing and producing food to a higher standard in the areas of food safety and environmental sustainability. The food safety requirements for participation in the NYS Grown & Certified program include third-party food safety audits, such as the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), Safe Quality Food (SQF), and British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification.

Mike Kiernan, Director of Food Safety at Stewart’s Shops said, “At Stewart’s Shops, we take great pride in our food safety standards. As a proud member of the New York State Grown & Certified Program, we work with family farms that uphold high-quality food and environmental standards right here in our own communities. This allows us to offer our customers the best fresh and local products possible.”

Mike Durant, President & CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of NY said, “New York’s retail food industry is a proud partner in promoting food safety for our employees and customers. In partnering with the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, we work tirelessly to ensure best practices are updated and implemented to protect our food supply chain and store offerings. We are appreciative of the work and guidance provided by the Department to our industry.”

Kevin Ellis, CEO of Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. said, “Our 260 dairy farm members take great pride in producing the highest-quality milk, which allows us to collectively deliver on our shared purpose of nourishing life. We pour all the values from the farms into our products, so that our delicious dairy foods and beverages provide the nourishment our communities need. We are working hard to maintain a solid food safety culture that pervades all aspects of our business and we partner with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to provide consumers in New York State and around the globe with the safest dairy products in the marketplace.“

Carmen I. Moraru, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Food Science at Cornell University said, “The importance of ensuring a safe food supply – in New York, in the US, and in the world – cannot be overstated. While many efforts have been made over the years to improve food safety, this is and should be an ongoing effort, as new food safety challenges occur in the context of ever-evolving food preferences and eating habits, as well as changing environmental conditions. On this World Food Safety Day, we are reminded of the critical importance of maintaining and complying with appropriate food safety standards. Our food safety researchers at Cornell University continue to work on developing faster and more accurate methods for detecting foodborne pathogens to ensure compliance with standards, on how the newest digital tools can be used to predict sources and distribution of contamination, and on designing novel intervention strategies that can minimize food safety risks. The award-winning extension faculty and staff from the Cornell Institute for Food Safety are working together with New York State and federal regulatory agencies to inform and train food industry personnel on how they can effectively meet regulatory requirements and food safety standards. We also offer no-cost monthly virtual Food Safety Office Hours that provide food safety guidance in the areas of dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and processed foods and beverages. Last, but certainly not least, the Cornell faculty are training the next generation of food science and food safety experts, who will lead future efforts to ensure a safe and resilient local and global food supply chain. In the Department of Food Science at Cornell, we consider it both our duty and privilege to work tirelessly on improving food safety.”

About World Food Safety Day

World Food Safety Day was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2018 to draw attention and direct educational efforts to reducing the approximately 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses that occur annually across the globe. The annual observance on June 7 aims to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism, and sustainable development. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) jointly facilitate the observance of World Food Safety Day, in collaboration with Member States and other relevant organizations. This international day is an opportunity to strengthen efforts to ensure that the food we eat is safe, mainstream food safety in the public agenda, and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally. The theme of the 2023 World Food Safety Day is “Food Standards Save Lives.”