The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama on January 2011, and now – more than two years following its enactment – the Obama administration is finally moving ahead with implementation of some of its key provisions.
As we reported last month, many of its laws remained to be enacted, much to the chagrin of many food safety advocates. When the Act was passed, the FDA acknowledged that establishing a process of enhanced food safety would take some time and, therefore, set forth flexible implementation guidelines for certain regulations, but the two year delay was deemed excessive to many food safety advocates.
The Food Safety Modernization Act was designed to protect the public from foodborne illnesses by holding everyone in today’s global food chain responsible and accountable for controlling hazards that can cause foodborne illnesses. According to the Washington Post, contaminated foods sicken an estimated 48 million Americans and kill 3,000 each year.
The new food safety laws are aimed at improving produce safety by proposing stringent new standards for fruit and vegetable producers and food manufacturers. The new rules would require produce farmers to ensure that their crops are not contaminated with animal waste or tainted water. As a result of the new rules, the Washington Post speculates that some produce farmers will be urged to build fences around their crops to keep out animals and to provide adequate restrooms and hand-washing stations for their field workers.
The new rules would also require food-processing companies to design and document comprehensive sanitary procedures and mechanisms regarding things like pest control, bathroom cleanliness, and work uniforms.
FDA officials and food safety advocates tout the new rules as essential tools for laying the groundwork for a massive overhaul of the nation’s food safety system, but the FDA has been less clear on who will foot the bill for the new food safety rules. The Washington Post reports that the produce regulations will likely cost a large farm around $30,000 a year. Several fruits and vegetables, such as plantains, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and others that are almost always consumed only after being cooked or canned, are exempt from the rule produce rules, however.
The FDA has not announced how it will pay for the additional inspectors and regulations, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost $1.4 billion over the first five years.
In addition to the newly proposed produce laws, the Food Safety Modernization Act provides a number of other provisions designed to protect our food supply, such as:
- Food manufacturing facilities must develop and implement written safety plans evaluating hazards that could affect the safety of food
- Food manufacturing facilities must identify, implement, and monitor preventive controls
- Food manufacturing facilities must maintain records of preventive controls monitoring
- Designated imported foods must be certified by a third party with expertise in food safety and under the oversight of the FDA
- The Secretary of Health and Human Services must identify and determine the most significant foodborne contaminants and develop science-based guidance to assist food producers.
The Chicago product liability attorneys at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to product safety and consumer rights. Contact one of our Chicago food safety attorneys at (312) 600-0000 for more information on the newly proposed food safety laws, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and foodborne illness.