- The U.S. FDA has unveiled new steps to enhance food safety, particularly in food manufacturing establishments, following numerous foodborne illness outbreaks.
- New mandates demand both human and animal food producers to present food safety outlines to the FDA, clearly illustrating measures taken to maintain cleanliness and responses to safety threats. These measures are expected to effectively eliminate foodborne illnesses.
- The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011 by President Obama, represents the first comprehensive alterations to U.S. food safety laws in seven decades. Five additional food safety rules are expected to be finalized in the next year.
- New regulations will offer comprehensive protection for consumers and their pets. Companies are now obligated to prevent foodborne disease outbreaks from happening. Manufacturer’s proactive steps to eliminate or neutralize harmful bacteria and prevent allergen contamination are now a priority.
- About 15% of the U.S. food supply comes from imports. These imported food items will now be subject to increased oversight to ensure that they meet the same safety criteria as domestic producers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled innovative steps aiming to boost the hygienic conditions of food manufacturing establishments, presumably following numerous fatal foodborne illness outbreaks.
Tainted foods such as spinach, cantaloupe, and ice cream are a cause for concern amongst the population. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 1 in 6 Americans — roughly 48 million people — fall sick each year as a result of consuming such foods. Shockingly, nearly 128,000 people end up in the hospital, and 3,000 individuals die annually due to foodborne diseases.
Preventing Food Contamination: The Common Denominator
“The food safety issues that we face have one significant point in common: They are largely preventable,” pronounced Michael Taylor, who serves as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, during a morning press briefing.
New mandates set to start later this year demand both human and animal food producers to present food safety outlines to the FDA. These plans should clearly illustrate the measures taken to maintain facility cleanliness and the responses to potential safety threats.
Taylor firmly believes that the newly instituted preamble measures will effectively eliminate foodborne illnesses and any subsequent disruptions.
Food Safety Measures Benefiting Consumers
Taylor adds, “American consumers hold high expectations regarding the safety of the food supply,” emphasizing that collective preventative measures need to be undertaken at every phase of food production processing. He further pointed out that such actions are precisely why these new rules have been established under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
The Act was initially signed into law by President Obama in January 2011 but underwent implementation delays. Representing the first comprehensive alterations to U.S. food safety laws in seven decades, the path-breaking procedures are now in place, according to the agency’s statements.
In addition to the rules solidified, five extra food safety rules are set to become final in the next year.
The Benefits: Direct and Indirect
The FDA assures consumers that the new regulations will offer comprehensive protection for them and their pets. Instead of merely responding to outbreaks, companies will now be obligated to prevent their occurrence in the first place. To attain this, manufacturers are required to take proactive steps to eliminate or neutralize harmful bacteria. At the same time, it’s critical that allergens — a significant trigger for food recalls — are prevented from contaminating other foods.
Expansion of these prevention efforts is expected to reach farms where the control of contamination is relatively difficult compared to factories. The agency has proposed standards related to agricultural water, farm worker hygiene, compost, and sanitation conditions affecting buildings, equipment, and tools. Importantly, these norms will be applicable to both domestic and imported produce.
Improving the Oversight of Imported Foods
About 15% of the U.S. food supply is constituted by imported food items, and oversight for this will be amped up. Importers are now expected to take a more active role in ensuring that the foods are safe and that they meet the same safety criterias as domestic producers.
Paving the Way for Safer and Saner Food Supply
“These are not one-size-fits-all requirements,” commented Taylor. “The rules are risked-based, targeted, and flexible to ensure the best outcomes are achieved in the most efficient and practical way.”
Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., welcomed these newly introduced safety protocols, noting that such measures affirm the importance of FDA for all of us.
Katz added that the oversight of food safety falls within the core functions of the FDA, a task he believes can only be effectively executed by an authoritative government agency.
Recognizing that Americans rely on the safety of the nation’s food supply, he concluded, “We can do so with a bit more assurance, thanks to these new stipulations.”
For more insights on food safety, visit Foodsafety.gov