The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed food-safety rules to help prevent contamination. One will target produce and the second would raise standards for food processors.
One in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year. Of those, nearly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die, according to the FDA.
The first proposed rule would require makers of food to be sold in the U.S. (whether produced abroad or domestically), to develop plans for preventing products from causing foodborne illness and for correcting problems when they occur. The second rule proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvest of farm produce—both fruits and veggies.
Both rules implement key provisions of the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act, which Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, supported. "Under the old rules, we've been reacting to food contaminations after they happened," says Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. "The goal here is to prevent deadly outbreaks before people get hurt."
Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy initiatives at Consumers Union, says these rules should help stop incidents such as the salmonella outbreak at the Sunland peanut product plant last year, which left hundreds sick; the salmonella outbreaks at the Peanut Corporation of America in 2009, which killed nine people; and the 2006 outbreak of E. coli in spinach, which caused several deaths.
You can comment on the proposed rules at www.regulations.gov starting Jan. 16, when the rules are officially published. The FDA will take comments from the public for the following 120 days after the publish date.
FDA proposes new food safety standards for foodborne illness prevention and produce safety [FDA]
Consumers Union: New rules "go to the heart" of food safety problems [Consumers Union]
Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food (pdf) [FDA]
Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human (pdf) [FDA]