The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed two new rules that are designed to improve food safety. The announcement was made on Friday by the agency and the rules are now open for review and public comment.
Two new food safety rules have been proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an official announcement was made on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. These rules were said to be developed after extensive touring of facilities, meetings and outreaching to representatives in a variety of industries that would be impacted by the new guidelines.
“We know one-size-fits-all rules won’t work,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “We’ve worked to develop proposed regulations that can be both effective and practical across today’s diverse food system.”
Proposed Rule #1
The first proposed rule requires food makers to devise a formal plan to prevent their food products from causing foodborne illness which includes a hazard analysis, risk-based preventative controls, and monitoring procedures. It also requires businesses to have a contingency plan if any problems do arise to provide corrective action.
Proposed Rule #2
Enforceable safety standards for production and harvesting on farms is the second proposal. "This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables," said the FDA. As a part of the rules, there are timetables set for both small and large farms. Full details of the second proposed rule can be found here.
The Food Safety Modernization Act
These two proposals for food safety were described to implement a bipartisan effort in a relatively new law called the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA was signed by President Barack Obama in Jan. 2011 and is described by the FDA as the "most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years."
“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Friday's FDA announcement. “With the support of industry, consumer groups, and the bipartisan leadership in Congress, we are establishing a science-based, flexible system to better prevent foodborne illness and protect American families.”
According to FDA statistics, one in six Americans are afflicted by a foodborne illness each year; 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 people die from their illness.
The FDA's newly proposed rules are now open for public review and comment for the next 120 days and the agency encourages the public to respond to the new proposals.