Some Federal Rules to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses Finalized

Some Federal Rules to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses Finalized
Image: NCCC
September 10, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been the talk of food production circles for quite some time, but few consumers may be familiar with it.

With an estimated 48 million people contracting a foodborne illness every year, the intent of the law is to require food companies to be less reactive to food safety and more proactive in preventing illness in the first place. The first two of seven rules are now final with the rest coming through 2016.

To prevent foodborne illnesses in both people and pet food, food companies will apply greater controls to stop contamination from happening rather than responding to it later. These facilities will need to think upfront about what could be harmful to consumers and then put into place controls to minimize or prevent those hazards.

There's been a lot of press about bacteria outbreaks that have been linked to unsanitary conditions on farms. A rule that will go into effect this fall aims to prevent contamination at the source. New regulations will focus on major conduits of contamination that are common to all, or most, farming environments. Standards have been proposed for agricultural water, farm worker hygiene or cleanliness, and compost and sanitation conditions affecting buildings, equipment, and tools. These standards will apply to both domestic and imported produce.

Imported foods aren't off the hook. The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs and Third Party Certification will require importers to assume greater responsibility to verify that the foods that they bring into the country meet the same safety standards as domestic foods.