January 4, 2014 — In an attempt to prevent outbreaks of food poisoning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing two new rules that will begin implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. The proposed regulations would shift the emphasis toward prevention of outbreaks instead of tracing the source of the outbreak after it occurs. The two new rules would target both food producers and processors.
The first rule emphasizes the role of food processors to prevent outbreaks. They would be required to identify potential hazards, actively prevent those hazards from occurring, and keep records of their actions that the FDA can audit.
The second rule emphasizes the role of food producers. Farmers would be required to take steps to prevent bacteria in feces from contaminating food grown in fields. The common ways that foods become contaminated include contaminated water, poor worker hygiene, animal feces or manure in fields, wildlife, and processing equipment that is contaminated with bacteria.
Because Americans also eat large amounts of imported fruits and vegetables, the FDA is also considering whether to implement regulations on food importers to prevent outbreaks.
The new rules would likely require about 50 new regulations. Advocates for the food industry are currently evaluating the impact of the proposed rules, which will be available for public comment next week. Some businesses could face additional costs to implement the safety measures, if they have not taken these steps voluntarily. Raw or ready-to-eat foods (such as lettuce and sprouts) would be more impacted than foods that are cooked to a temperature that kills bacteria (such as potatoes or canning fruits).
The proposals come at a time of heightened scrutiny over food safety. Several large outbreaks of food poisoning have affected sprouts, cantaloupe, peanut butter, mangoes, and more. According to the FDA, about one-sixth of Americans are poisoned by food, about 130,000 people must be hospitalized, and 3,000 die from the illnesses every year.
Do I have a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
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