The FDA proposed two new food safety rules today to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. The rules are meant to help prevent foodborne illness.
The first proposed rule would require makers of food sold in the United States, both in foreign and domestic facilities, to develop formal plans to prevent their products from causing foodborne illness. The rule also requires plans for correcting problems that arise. The second rule proposes enforceable safety standards for produce production and harvesting on farms.
“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release. “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 the FDA, one in six Americans suffers from a foodborne illness every year, resulting in 130,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Preventing these illnesses will reduce medical costs and avoid disruptions to the food system that are caused by illness outbreaks.
Both rules are available for public comment for 120 days. The FDA proposes that food manufacturers be in compliance with the first rule within one year after the final rule is published in the Federal Register, and the second rule within 26 months.
“The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments and our international trading partners,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, said in the press release. “Our proposed rules reflect the input we have received from these stakeholders and we look forward to working with the public as they review the proposed rules.”
Future rules will include new responsibilities for importers to certify that food processed overseas is as safe as domestically-produced food, since approximately 15% of food consumed in the United States is imported. Another future rule will propose preventive controls for animal food facilities.