FDA Moves On Food Safety A Mere Two Years Behind Schedule

The Food and Drug Administration released historic food safety regulations on Thursday that will force food manufacturers to implement major reforms to reduce the risk that their products will make people sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 48 million Americans contract a foodborne illness every year, 3,000 of whom end up dying.

The new regulations, which cover packaged and processed foods from applesauce to ziti, stem from the Food Safety Modernization Act that President Barack Obama signed into law in January 2011.

Food safety advocate Sandra Eskin of the Pew Charitable Trusts hailed the release as “a big step forward for food safety and public health.”

“For the first time, we have rules that require food processors to take steps to identify risks and do something to reduce them,” she said.

The rules, which go into effect in 2016, were notoriously overdue. The FSMA mandated that new standards be released by July 2012, but they were delayed time and time again. In the two years since that deadline, a number of high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness have been linked to foods that would have been covered by the rules, most notably Blue Bell ice cream and Sunland peanut butter.

Officials from the FDA and the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget said they needed the extra time to make sure that the rules were written correctly, with input from all stakeholders, given that they make up the biggest overhaul of food safety regulations in a generation. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents many of the companies most affected by the new rules, praised the FDA for the “deliberative and inclusive approach it took in developing these regulations.”

The fact that these regulations were released —> Read More