FDA Issues New Rules to Help Prevent Foodborne Illnesses

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Newman_161115A new set of rules has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fight against foodborne illnesses. The organization references the millions of Americans affected by tainted produce each year as the reason for the new rules.

The rules come as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The legislation ensures that those who import produce verify that the produce is in accordance with U.S. safety standards. Auditors are also now tasked with inspecting foreign food facilities to confirm that all safety measures are being taken. This is the first time enforceable rules have been put in place to govern these bodies.

The goal is prevention, and the FDA believes these rules will help farmers identify problems prior to them getting to the public. This could potentially be a major step forward, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports that close to 50 million Americans are said to be sickened from foodborne illnesses every year. Of that number, 3,000 end up dying and over 100,000 are hospitalized.

The rules that speak specifically to the overall Food Safety Modernization Act are called the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule and the Accredited Third-Party Certification rule, according to a release by the FDA.

Michael R. Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, is hopeful that these precautions will save lives:

“The recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella in imported cucumbers that has killed four Americans, hospitalized 157 and sickened hundreds more, is exactly the kind of outbreak these rules can help prevent,” said Taylor.

The Act also includes provisions for the health and hygiene of employees, wild and domestic animals, equipment safety, and water quality requirements. Visiting farms and listening to feedback is what helped the FDA design the rules. They claim that if the rules are followed, less people will become sick and die from preventable foodborne illnesses.

The U.S. has a significant percentage of its food imported. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than half of its fruits, 20% of its fresh vegetables and close to 20% of its overall food is imported.

The ultimate success of the Act depends on full funding of the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget request.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“FDA issues final rules on produce safety, imported foods,” Fox news web site, November 13, 2015; http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/11/13/fda-issues-final-rules-on-produce-safety-imported-foods.html.