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FDA seeks public comment on new food safety rule

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The FDA is inviting the public to comment on a proposed new rule that would require the largest food businesses in the United States and abroad to “take measures to prevent facilities from being the target of intentional attempts to contaminate the food supply.

“The goal is to protect the food supply from those who may attempt to cause large-scale public health harm,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “Such events, while unlikely to occur, must be taken seriously because they have the potential to cause serious public health and economic consequences. The FDA’s goal is to devise an approach that effectively protects the food supply in a practical, cost effective manner.”

Although this marks the 6th new rule under the Food Safety Mocernization Acr, it marks the first time the FDA has proposed a regulatory aimed at intentional sabotage of the nation’s food supply, and seeks to plug holes in areas that present “significant vulnerabilities” in its production process. This includes mandating that facilities “identify and putting into action strategies to correct these vulnerabilities, establish monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records.”

The proposed regulation, however, does not apply to farms and food for animals. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration is considering staggered compliance dates based on business size, ranging from one year to three years after publication of the final rule. Members of the general public can voice their opinions regarding the new rule now through March 31, 2014.

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