The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping in and taking action, allowing the agency to protect the nation against potentially unsafe goods from entering the food supply chain and ward off stings of contamination such as the rise in salmonella outbreaks popping up in many segments of the nutrition pyramid recently. The rules are the first to be issued by the FDA under the new authorities granted the agency by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law by President Obama in January of this year.

Click HERE for the full text of the law.

A government description of the Act states:

“It enables FDA to focus more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting to problems after they occur. The law also provides FDA with new enforcement authorities designed to achieve higher rates of compliance with prevention and risk-based food safety standards and to better respond to and contain problems when they do occur. The law also gives FDA important new tools to hold imported foods to the same standards as domestic foods and directs FDA to build an integrated national food safety system in partnership with state and local authorities.”

Starting in July of this year the FDA won’t have to work with state agencies to embargo a food product under the state’s legal authority until federal enforcement action can be initiated in federal court as was the case until now. If the FDA catches wind of contamination, they can directly stop the influx of such products without presenting evidence that a food product was, or is contaminated or mislabeled in a way that presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.

Second, another new law will require that if any company or person’s product was denied access to another country, it must be reported instead of taking a shot at entering the United States undetected. This new requirement will provide the agency with more information about foods that are being imported, which improves the FDA’s ability to target foods that may pose a significant risk to public health.

Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor comments:

“This authority strengthens significantly the FDA’s ability to keep potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers. It is a prime example of how the new food safety law allows FDA to build prevention into our food safety system. The new information on imports can help the FDA make better informed decisions in managing the potential risks of imported food entering the United States. These rules will be followed later this year and next year by a series of proposed rules for both domestic and imported food that will help the FDA continue building the new food safety system called for by Congress.”

In keeping with other provisions in the FSMA, the FDA will continue to work with state agencies on food safety and build stronger ties with those agencies. Simply stated, they now have a faster and more direct path to eliminating possible quickly spreading treats in the American food supply chain.

Sources: FDA News Release and The Food Safety Modernization Act Background Information

Written by Sy Kraft