FDA Updates Food Safety Laws

The Food and Drug Administration proposed two food safety rules aimed at preventing the contamination of produce and processed foods.
139564706

139564706

washing vegetable

Photo by: OlgaMiltsova

OlgaMiltsova

The government is finally moving forward with the biggest overhaul of food safety rules since the Great Depression—it’s about time! With major recalls in the past few years of melon and peanut butter, the safety of the U.S. food supply has been under major scrutiny. Food safety advocates are thrilled, but will these government plans really keep our food supply safe?
The Plan

The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama and hailed to be the first major overhaul in the safety of our food system in 70 years. The entire system shifts the focus to prevention rather than reaction when a problem occurs. There are 2 new rules proposed by the FDA that would govern about 80% of the U.S. food supply, excluding meat and poultry.

Rule #1

The first rule is aimed at fruit and vegetable safety and food processing. It requires the following:

  • Farmers ensure irrigation water touching fruit and veggies isn’t contaminated with pathogenic micro-organisms.
  • Water used to wash fruit and veggies in the packing sheds must be safe to drink.
  • Farm employees must be provided with hand-washing stations and other basic sanitation facilities.
  • Growers must put in place a plan to prevent the spread of microorganisms associated with animals that may enter the growing fields.
  • Manure and other types of fertilizers must either be composted properly or treated to kill dangerous microorganisms.
  • Packing sheds can’t have standing water and packing equipment must be easy to clean.
Rule #2

The second rule also applies to fruit and veggies and is similar to what’s currently used to keep meat and seafood safe. It’s also similar to the HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) system implemented in the commercial food service world. The food-processing facilities would need to implement a control system based on any potential hazards. The basic steps in this system are:

  • Determine any points where potential hazards can happen.
  • Find critical points within the system that can be controlled in order to reduce or eliminate the hazard.
  • Monitor that the controls are being met.
  • Correct for any issues that arise.
  • Show state and federal agricultural officers that the program implemented works through testing.

These two rules will be published in the Federal Register and the public will have 120 days to comment. An additional three rules are pending and should be issued in the near future. One rule that was not addressed this time was imported food. Over 15% of our food supply is imported with a 10% annual growth. It is expected to be addressed in upcoming months.

Bottom Line: The government is taking big strides towards making our food supply safer. These laws will take several years to implement, hopefully making our food supply safe in years to come. However, in the short term we still may see some additional outbreaks so be sure to handle food with care.

TELL US: What are your thoughts on the new food safety rules?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Summer Food Safety: Mayonnaise

It's important to practice food safety, especially with salads that include mayonnaise in the summer months.

Food Safety for Food Preserving

Food preserving is the hottest trend, especially with many more folks growing their own fruits and veggies at home and preserving the extras. But with home preserving comes possible food poisoning---something everyone should be cautious about.

News Update: FDA Hints at Releasing Long-Awaited Salt Guidelines

As blood pressure and health care costs for chronic disease continue to rise, the FDA is preparing to lower salt guidelines. Many folks in the U.S. take in about 3,400 milligrams (or 1 ½ teaspoons) of salt each day, that’s well above the 2,300 milligrams per day (or 1 teaspoon) maximum recommendation. By having food companies and restaurants cut back on salt, the FDA is hoping to lower the incidence of high blood pressure, strokes and other medical proble

Update: FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Regulation Takes Effect

One year ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled a plan to set guidelines for packaged foods claiming to be free of gluten. The FDA regulations, which are voluntary, take effect today and stipulate that any packaged food labeled "gluten-free" must contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Food Safety: Storing Thanksgiving Leftovers

Store your Thanksgiving leftovers safely and quickly with advice from our experts.

Food Safety: Grocery Store Bags

Many folks love their eco-friendly re-usable grocery bags, but when’s the last time you washed yours?

The Rules of Thanksgiving Food Safety

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season where friends, family, and loved ones gather to have a fantastic meal. It’s not the time to skimp on those food safety habits that can make or break the festivities. Here are some simple reminders.

10 Summer Food-Safety Tips

Keep your food and family safe all summer long by following these simple tips.