The Food and Drug Administration started off 2013 by proposing new measures to keep America’s food supply safe. The new rules, introduced Jan. 4, aim at preventing food contamination from farm to store shelves.
In an interview about the new safety standards, Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine for the FDA said, “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.”
The new rules, if enacted, will require companies to have a plan in place to prevent the contamination of processed foods, such as nut butters, as well as insisting farm workers have access to portable toilets in the fields and wash their hands.
Sandra B. Eskin, director of the safe food campaign at the Pew Charitable Trusts, noted, “This is very good news for consumers.” She added, “We applaud the administration’s action, which demonstrates its strong commitment to making our food safer.”
According to the FDA, one out six Americans becomes ill from contaminated food each year. While the new rules will hopefully help reduce this number, Taylor points out some contamination will still be likely.
“We’re not going to relinquish all risk of contamination, but these steps will make us think more about what we can do to reduce it,” Taylor explained. The new rules also fail to address the growing number of imported foods found in America’s grocery’s stores, which will not be impacted by the safe food regulations.
In following the standard protocol, the new rules will undergo a 120 day comment period before the final rules are made binding by the FDA. Rules helping to eliminate contamination in imported food are still pending.