FDA Proposes Sweeping New Food Safety Rules

Aimed at preventing deaths from food-borne illnesses, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing sweeping food safety rules that many experts believe are long overdue.

The new rules will require both farmers and food companies to take new precautions against contamination in the growing of and processing of food.  These new regulations are aimed at reducing the estimated 3,000 deaths a year from food-borne illness.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year outbreaks of listeria in cheese and salmonella in peanut butter, mangoes and cantaloupe caused more than 400 illnesses and as many as seven deaths.  In 2011, the outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe claimed thirty-three lives.

The FDA will now require farmers to make sure worker’s are washing their hands, that irrigation water is clean, and that animals stay out of the fields.

Food manufacturers will be required to submit plans to the government that show they are keeping their operations clean.

According to the FDA, these new rules could prevent up to two million illnesses a year, though the agency expects it will take a couple of years before the rules actually prevent outbreaks.  Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, said it could take another year before all the rules are written, and then farms would have two years after that to comply, which means the rules are still three years away from taking effect.

This is the first time the FDA has actually had authority to regulate food on farms, and in an effort to reduce protests from farmers, the rules are tailored to apply only to those fruits and vegetables that pose the greatest risk to consumers.

Original article found here.