Two new rules from FDA are intended to make production of both human and animal foods safer.

FDA Finalizes Preventive Controls Rules, Meant to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses

The two rules are “the first step in putting greater emphasis on the prevention of foodborne illness, holding imported food to the same food safety standard as domestically produced food, and developing a nationally integrated food safety system in partnership with state and local authorities,” according to the agency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 10 announced what it described as a major step in preventing foodborne illness by finalizing the first two of seven major rules under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The rules address manufacturing process for both human and animal foods; they will take effect 60 days after being published Sept. 17 in the Federal Register.

One day earlier, CDC reported that the number of people infected with Salmonella Poona linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico had risen to 341, an increase of 56 cases since Sept. 4. The cases are spread across 30 states, and 70 people so far have been hospitalized, with two deaths (one each in California and Texas) linked to the outbreak. CDC and the FDA are investigating.

Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce on Sept. 4 voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the "Limited Edition" brand label during the period from Aug. 1 through Sept. 3, 2015, because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah, but CDC reported further distribution to other states may have occurred.

The new FDA rules will hold imported food to the same food safety standard as domestically produced food and develop a nationally integrated food safety system in partnership with state and local authorities, according to FDA, which reports that an estimated 48 million people get sick each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent CDC data. Of these, approximately 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die per year.

"Today"s announcement sets us on the path to a modern food safety system that will prevent illnesses and continue to build confidence in the safety of the food served to our families every day," said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, acting FDA commissioner.

The rules require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans that indicate possible problems that could affect the safety of their products and outline steps the facility would take to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of those problems occurring.

"We've been working with states, food companies, farmers, and consumers to create smart, practical, and meaningful rules," said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA. "And we have made a firm commitment to provide guidance, technical assistance, and training to advance a food safety culture that puts prevention first."

All seven FSMA rules will be finalized as of 2016.

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