FDA Rolls Out New Food Safety Regulation
Last Friday, the United States Food and Drug Administration has released a new set of regulations for both produced and imported foods. This is aimed to combat foodborne-related illnesses.
With this new rule on hand, the FDA can now reinforce food safety by creating "science-based standards" for farm produce that included growing, harvesting, packing and holding and giving accountability to importers to ensure that the foods they deliver meet the U.S. food safety guidelines.
"This is the first time the food importers have fallen directly under FDA regulation," agency's deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine Michael R. Taylor said.
According to FDA, the new rule, which is part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, will help both produce farmers and importers prevent outbreaks of foodborne diseases like the Salmonella cases in Mexican cucumbers and the Mexican cilantro infected with cyclospora.
Based on the CDC's statistics, of the 322 million American population, an estimated 48 million are affected by foodborne-related illness. Of these, around 128,000 are sent to the hospitals and 3000 died.
The produce safety law will also cover quality of water, health and hygiene of handlers/employees, compost and manure of both wild and domesticated animals, and equipment and buildings. This is in accordance with the agency's vision of a "comprehensive food safety overhaul."
With the country relying 52 percent of its fresh fruit and 22 percent of its fresh vegetables from global supply, "the final foreign supplier verification rule will significantly impact food retailers importing into the United States," Taylor said.
Under this new Foreign Supplier Verification policy, suppliers must see to it that imported produce follows the established FDA protocol. "but imported food will at least now have someone who is responsible for assuring its safety." The agency has rolled out policy with regard to third-party auditors accreditation required to do food safety audits on facilities.
"We are confident that the overwhelming majority of fresh produce brands that consumers enjoy today are already in compliance with those standards," said Tom Stenze, United Fresh Produce Association. "Requiring it for all importers was crucial to keeping the American food supply safe."