The FDA proposed two new food safety rules that will help prevent foodborne illness. The proposed rules implement the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The proposed rules build on significant strides made during the Obama Administration, including the first egg safety rule protecting consumers from Salmonella and stepped up testing for E. coli in beef as well as existing voluntary industry guidelines for food safety, which many producers, growers and others currently follow.
The burden of foodborne illness in the United States is substantial. One in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year. Of those, nearly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from their illness. Preventing foodborne illnesses will improve public health, reduce medical costs, and avoid the costly disruptions of the food system caused by illness outbreaks and large-scale recalls.
The first proposed rule would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise. The FDA is proposing that many food manufacturers be in compliance with the new preventive controls rules one year after the final rules are published in the Federal Register but small and very small businesses would be given additional time.
The second proposed rule introduces enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. The FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small and very small farms would have additional time to comply, and all farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.
“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.”
Additional rules to follow soon include new responsibilities for importers to verify that food products grown or processed overseas are as safe as domestically produced food and accreditation standards to strengthen the quality of third party food safety audits overseas. Improving oversight of imported food is an important goal of FSMA. Approximately 15 percent of the food consumed in the United States is imported, with much higher proportions in certain higher risk categories, such as produce. The FDA will also propose a preventive controls rule for animal food facilities, similar to the preventive controls rule proposed today for human food.
See the FDA Announcement