Two Major Food Safety Rules Issued by FDA

Implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the two proposed rules set out new safety standards for foods generally and for farm produce.

In two new proposed rules, each more than 500 pages long, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is implementing the groundbreaking FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that President Obama signed into law in January 2011. One sets out new standards for foods generally, the other for growing and harvesting farm produce. FDA is accepting public comments on both until May 16.

"The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common-sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Jan. 4. "With the support of industry, consumer groups, and the bipartisan leadership in Congress, we are establishing a science-based, flexible system to better prevent foodborne illness and protect American families."

The first rule would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign or domestic facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illnesses and for correcting any problem that arises. The second rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables; FDA proposed that larger farms comply with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register, while smaller farms would have additional time to comply. All farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.

"The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments, and our international trading partners," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. "Our proposed rules reflect the input we have received from these stakeholders, and we look forward to working with the public as they review the proposed rules."

"We know one-size-fits-all rules won't work. We've worked to develop proposed regulations that can be both effective and practical across today's diverse food system," said Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

The agency is coordinating the comment periods as much as possible so comments can address how the rules "can best work together to create an integrated, effective and efficient food safety system," according to its news release.

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