Two Big Rule Changes to Improve Food Safety – FDA
Two big rule changes are on the way and they will change forever the American system of food production. It is the FDA, or Food and Drug Administration, that is proposing these 2 important regulation amendments. Their aim is to avoid contamination of foods both unprocessed and processed that has continued to cause many tens of thousands of cases of food poisoning every year in America.
The regulation changes are aimed at more preventive approaches rather than bringing failures to book after people have been ill. It is all part of the slow progress of implementing the ‘Food Safety Modernization’ law that came out of Congress in 2010. This law was enacted following major incidents involving contaminated eggs, peanut butter and spinach. The FDA will be demanding improved record keeping for product traceability, action plans in readiness for the event of a contamination incident and accurate production records. The FDA can only lay down the guidelines. It is up to all food producers to put the improvements in place.
In particular, water is the key focus for the new regulations. Producers must ensure irrigation water is of sufficient purity so as not to contaminate the food chain. They must also find methods of segregating fresh food that may hold toxic bacteria, from cooked food products. The rule changes will point the way to raising personal hygiene standards of farm hands, installation of field toilet facilities and cooking temperature guidelines to ensure bacteria are killed off.
The first rule change is to push the onus onto food producers for contamination prevention measures. To require those producers to have corrective action procedures in place should a contamination come about and for record keeping of a standard that supports the prevention principle. An example would be the requirement for a minimum temperature for peanut roasters and guidance on keeping raw nuts separate from roasted ones.
2. E coli Contamination
The second rule change is applying to growers and harvesters of fruit and vegetables. It aims to improve production processes with particular regard to ending e-coli contamination through the 4 ‘W’s; water, waste, workers and wildlife.
Inevitably these measures will increase costs of production and some or all of that will migrate into food prices. The Obama administration still has to find the funds to administer the supervisory bodies. While they have requested 220 million dollars, Congress has still not approved it. The FDA are still confident, saying “These new rules really set the basic framework for a modern, science-based approach to food safety and shift us from a strategy of reacting to problems to a strategy for preventing problems”.
On average 3000 Americans die each year because of food poisoning, 130 thousand are admitted to hospital, so severe are the symptoms. It is also estimated that 1 in 6 people will suffer at least one food poisoning episode, from which they will recover fully. The aim of the new regulations will be to drastically reduce these numbers. Further rule changes will be forthcoming to ensure imported foodstuffs are wholesome and free from contamination.