The US food industry has welcomed the publishing of two major requirements by the US Food and Drug Administration aimed at helping prevent foodborne illnesses and improve food safety.

On Friday (4 January), the FDA released two draft rule proposals that will allow it to move its focus on preventing, rather than reacting, to foodborne illnesses.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) said it "applauds" the move, which is a step closer to the implementation of the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that President Obama signed two years ago. The Act gave the FDA one year to put the first policies into place.

"The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act ... is a landmark piece of legislation that represents the most comprehensive reform of our nation's food safety laws and regulations in more than seventy years," said the GMA. "It places new responsibilities on food and beverage manufacturers and provides the FDA with the resources and authorities it needs to further strengthen our nation's food safety net."

The FDA is expected to issue around 50 regulations through the Act, aimed at improving food safety.

"We are pleased that implementation of FSMA is moving forward and look forward to working with the FDA by continuing to share our food safety expertise and best practices and by evaluating and commenting on the proposed rules," the GMA said.

The Product Marketing Association also welcomed the move and said it was "eager" to review and assess the rules.

"Food safety remains a top priority for our members and we look forward to effective enhancements in food safety that not only protects public health, but bolsters consumer confidence," said PMA president and CEO Bryan Silbermann. "FDA has put in a great amount of time and effort to develop these proposals and they deserve our focused attention as the agency asks for our input."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the rules, while "12 months behind the congressionally mandated date", are an "important" step toward the goal of transforming the FDA from "an agency that tracks down outbreaks after the fact, to an agency focused on preventing food contamination in the first 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.