Created on: January 08, 2013
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed two new rules that were designed to increase food safety and improve upon existing processes. The planned rules have been published online and are open for public review and comment.
An official announcement was made by the federal food safety agency on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. In the announcement, the FDA outlined the new rules and explained the process in how the guidelines were designed.
The agency said the rules were created after doing extensive research and examination of current food manufacturing and producing processes. This included speaking to representatives in a variety of industries, touring different facilities and attending numerous meetings. The agency acknowledged that new rules will impact a variety of businesses and that it wanted to ensure the smoothest transition for all.
“We know one-size-fits-all rules won’t work,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in the agency's press release. “We’ve worked to develop proposed regulations that can be both effective and practical across today’s diverse food system.”
• The Food Safety Modernization Act
The two new rules for food safety, said to be a bipartisan effort, fall under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed by President Obama in early 2011. Described as a significant reform of food safety laws, the FDA said its aim "is to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it."
• FDA's proposed Rule #1
If passed, proposed rule #1 will require businesses to devise a tightened process that emphasizes a proactive approach, rather than the reactive approach that currently exists. One only has to consider the major egg recall in 2010 that led to many problems when it was found the companies involved had disgusting conditions, and knew about them for years. It appears the FDA would like to avoid these types of scenarios.
Rule #1 would require businesses to create a hazard analysis, develop risk-based preventative controls and monitoring procedures. Additionally, a plan to provide corrective action is also a requirement.
• FDA's proposed Rule #2
Rule #2 aims to establish safety standards for production and harvesting on farms. It would encompass science and risk-based standards for the safe handling (production/harvesting) of fruits and vegetables.
If accepted, this rule would roll out in stages with "small" and "very small" farms getting an extended period of time to comply. Full details of this rule can be found on the FDA's website.
“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Friday's FDA announcement. “With the support of industry, consumer groups, and the bipartisan leadership in Congress, we are establishing a science-based, flexible system to better prevent foodborne illness and protect American families.”
Currently, the public is being encouraged to review the new rules and provide comment. The comment and review period is open for 120 days.
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