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FDA finalises rules to improve food safety in the US

14 September 2015  •  Author(s): Victoria White

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalised the first two of seven major rules under the bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).

food-safety-fda

The action is the first step in putting greater emphasis on the prevention of foodborne illness, holding food imported to the US to the same food safety standard as food produced in the country, and developing a nationally integrated food safety system in partnership with state and local authorities.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in six Americans get sick each year from foodborne diseases. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalised, and 3,000 die each year. Over the past few years, high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach to peanut products, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.

“Today’s announcement sets us on the path to a modern food safety system that will prevent illnesses and continue to build confidence in the safety of the food served to our families every day,” said Dr Stephen Ostroff, acting FDA commissioner.

FDA worked with states, food companies and farmers to create the new rules

The preventive controls rules require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans that indicate the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products and outline steps the facility would take to prevent or significantly minimise the likelihood of those problems occurring. This means that food companies will be accountable for monitoring their facilities and identifying any potential hazards in their products and prevent those hazards. Under these rules, the FDA will be able to assess these systems and their outcomes to prevent problems, will better be able to respond when food safety problems occur, and better protect the safety of manufactured food. 

The preventive controls final rules are the result of an extensive outreach effort, and incorporate thousands of public comments, including valuable input from farmers, consumers, the food industry and academic experts, to create a flexible and targeted approach to ensuring food safety.

“We’ve been working with states, food companies, farmers and consumers to create smart, practical and meaningful rules,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, FDA. “And we have made a firm commitment to provide guidance, technical assistance and training to advance a food safety culture that puts prevention first.”

Once the seven FSMA rules are finalised in 2016, they will work together to systematically strengthen the food safety system in the US.

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