Foodborne Illness Prevention Evolves With New FDA Proposal

Posted on January 4, 2013

In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act came into being.  Lawmakers passed this bill as a means to ensure that the food you and I consume on a daily basis could have its safety assured.  Through the act, the power of the Food and Drug Administration was expanded in a bid to prevent foodborne illness before it starts, hopefully eliminating outbreaks that can endanger citizens across the country.

Thanks to that act, the FDA is now introducing new rules which aim to improve food safety, and the public has four months to comment on these rules before a final decision is made.  The FDA has posted these potential rules to their website, and they bear further analysis.

The first rule affects food packaging, processing, and storage facilities.  Specifically, it tasks such food producers with creating new processes designed to cut down on the potential for foodborne illness to make its way from a facility to a consumer.  The proposed rules would require companies to explain how they intend to evaluate likely hazards and then put into action a plan that minimizes the possibility of such threats coming to fruition.  Such steps would have to be carefully monitored, and fastidious records will have to be kept so that every part of the process receives the necessary oversight.  Food producers will also have to detail how they intend to go into action when a problem does arise.

One thing the FDA takes pains to say is that the impetus for the plan must come from the food company itself.  Once that plan is submitted, the FDA will then look it over and determine if the plan is adequate. All attempts to carry out this plan to its maximum effect will be overseen by the FDA.

The other rule attempts to impose standards that must be met by producers of fruits and vegetables.  Once the requirements are compiled, produce companies will have to meet these science-based benchmarks.

Those standards are being put in place to ensure that agricultural water and irrigation are safe and that any workers who come into contact with produce have the necessary hygiene to ensure some type of contaminant is not spread to the food item.  Any soil additives, such as manure, would have to have their safety assured, as would any tools, buildings, or equipment involved in the production process.  These items would need to meet minimum sanitation requirements, and areas that food is meant to grow would have to be free from livestock intrusion.  The thought is that the new standards will prevent contamination from the most likely sources of such.

These are just the first two rules in a set of five, three of which still have to be published.  For more about those rules, check out the link.

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