US: FDA publishes food safety requirements
The US Food and Drug Administration has published two major requirements that it says will help prevent foodborne illnesses and improve food safety.
The FDA on Friday (4 January) released two draft rule proposals that will allow it to move its focus on preventing, rather than reacting, to foodborne illnesses.
The move is a step closer to the implementation of the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that President Obama signed two years ago. It gave the FDA one year to put the first policies into place.
Rule one requires food manufacturers producing items to be sold in the US, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness. The rule requires them to have plans in place for correcting any problems that arise.
The FDA is also seeking public comment on the second rule, which proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms, with science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.
The rules will be available for public comment for the next 120 days.
According to the FDA, the rules follow "extensive outreach" to the produce industry, the consumer community, other government agencies and the international community, with the FDA "touring farms and facilities nationwide" since January 2011. It has also involved "hundreds" of meetings and presentations with global regulatory partners, industry stakeholders, consumer groups, farmers, state and local officials, and the research community, the FDA said.
"The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments, and our international trading partners," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "Our proposed rules reflect the input we have received from these stakeholders and we look forward to working with the public as they review the proposed rules."
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