Last week FDA announced it finalized two of seven major rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The two rules included preventative controls rules for human and animal food. These rules will require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plants that indicate the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products and outline steps the facility can take to minimize these risks. The remaining five rules will be finalized through 2016.
This announcement is big news for the food industry, but just how will the average consumer be better protected under these new rules? To help answer that question, FDA outlined five ways consumers will be touched by the new FSMA rules.
1. Food companies will apply greater controls to help prevent hazards.
“Rather than just react to outbreaks, we are requiring food facilities to take measures to prevent them from the get-go,” said Jenny Scott, senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety. Food facilities will need to think upfront about what could be harmful to consumers, and then put controls in place to minimize or prevent those hazards.
2. You and your pet get protections from tainted animal food.
With the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule, the second final rule released, “the same up-front thinking now required of human food manufacturing will also apply to manufacturers of animal food, including pet food,” says Dan McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
3. Eating healthfully and eating safely will go hand-in-hand.
The final produce safety rule, to be issued this fall, will create safeguards to help prevent illnesses in ways that are appropriate for farms.
“Farms, unlike factories, are open environments,” says Samir Assar, director of FDA’s Division of Produce Safety. “There are elements we understand that farms can’t necessarily control.” However, there are actions that can, and must, be taken to minimize the likelihood of contamination in ways that are practical and feasible for growers.
The FDA anticipates that the produce rule as proposed would prevent hundreds of thousands of illnesses caused by produce each year.
4. There will be greater oversight of foods imported from other countries.
Overall, 15 percent of the US food supply is imported from other countries, but this includes 80 percent of seafood, nearly 50 percent of the country’s fresh fruit, and 20 percent of its fresh vegetables.
The rules specifically affecting imports—Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) and Third Party Certification—are scheduled to become final the fall of 2015, enhancing FDA’s oversight of imported foods.
5. Consumers like you will be more confident that their food is safe.
“Up until now, everything has been reactive,” says Darin Detwiler, senior policy coordinator for the advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness. “This is the most sweeping food safety legislation passed within the last 70 years.”