FDA Finally Proposes Overhaul of Food Safety for Produce, Dairy, Seafood and Drinking Water

Sunday, January 13, 2013
Farm workers in Colorado working near pesticide spraying (photo: Colorado Leagal Services)

Two years after Congress ordered the changes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally unveiled new rules designed to overhaul the nation’s food-safety system.

 

The regulations, characterized as the most far-reaching in more than 70 years, would impose tough new standards for fruit and vegetable producers and food manufacturers.

 

Federal officials are hoping the revised system will reduce the number of food-poisoning cases in the United States. Currently, about 48 million Americans consume contaminated foods annually, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

 

Among other requirements included in the 1,200 pages of regulations, farmers must provide adequate restroom and hand-washing facilities for farm workers. Food processing companies will have to do the same.

 

Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, told The Washington Post, “The strength of this system is it is science-based; it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s inherently adaptable to all sorts of operations. We’re looking to take widely recognized principles and apply them to a widely diverse food supply.”

 

Food industry groups did not object to the proposed rules, but planned to lobby the FDA for certain changes before the regulations are finalized.

 

The announcement followed another rule unveiled last month by the Obama administration that requires utilities to test public drinking water supplies for E. coli, a highly dangerous pathogen. The mandate will affect about 155,000 public water systems that serve almost the entire U.S. population.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

 

To Learn More:

FDA Begins Implementing Sweeping Food-Safety Law (by Brady Dennis, Washington Post)

Emphasis On E. Coli: New Rules Tackle Bacteria In Drinking Water (by Brian Bienkowski, Environmental Health News)

FDA Sued for Failing to Meet Food Safety Deadlines (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Administration Slow to Implement Food Safety Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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