FDA passes the first rule set for imported food in the U.S., placing for the first time responsibility for compliance with U.S. standards on companies.
The new rule set comes five years into Congress passing a landmark legislation prevention contaminated food from being imported on American soil. The first rule set for imported food published by the FDA places responsibility on companies importing food products. At the same time, national producers also have a new set of rules to improve produce safety.
Companies are now required to attest the compliance of the food they import with U.S. safety standards. At this point, companies importing food products in the U.S. need to hire third-party auditors. They are responsible for performing full safety compliance tests in the foreign facilities.
This provision has been met with some suspicion by consumer advocate groups stating that companies might hijack the process by lack of transparency and accountability. However, federal officials have countered with stating that the matter will be placed under federal oversight. Food-importing companies fall under the regulations of the FDA.
Michael R. Taylor, who is the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine reminded those present at the announcement that not too long ago 150 ended up in hospitals and another four died due to the salmonella outbreak traced back to imported cucumbers. It is specifically this type of event that is meant to be prevented as the FDA passes the first rule set for imported food in the U.S..
Every year, one in six U.S. citizens requires medical treatment due to contamination linked to food. Approximately 128,000 require hospitalization. Another 3,000 Americans die.
Thus, the safety of the food supply is a matter of urgency. The new rule set targets American food producers as well. All stages of the food supply are taken into account, including the harvesting, the packing and the storage of food produce.
The new rule set is a step forward for securing compliance with U.S. food safety standards. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 19 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is imported. Overall, 52 percent of fresh fruits as well as 22 percent of fresh vegetables are imported.
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