miércoles, 7 de agosto de 2013

FDA Proposes Rules for Safer Imported Foods

Only around 2 percent of that food is inspected by the government at ports and borders
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed new steps Friday to ensure that fresh produce, cheeses and other foods imported into the United States are safe.

The proposed rules, required by a sweeping food safety law passed by Congress 2 1/2 years ago, are meant to establish better checks on what long has been a scattershot effort at guarding against unsafe food imported from more than 150 countries. Only around 2 percent of that food is inspected by the government at ports and borders.
About 15 percent of the food Americans eat is imported, including about 50 percent of fruits and 20 percent of vegetables. An estimated 3,000 people die from food-related illnesses every year.

The proposed guidelines would require U.S. food importers to verify that the foreign companies they are importing from are achieving the same levels of food safety required in this country. The rules, which would also improve audits of food facilities abroad, could cost the food industry up to $472 million annually.

Since Congress passed the food safety law in December 2010 and President Barack Obama signed it in early 2011, there have been several outbreaks caused by imported foods, including an occurrence of Listeria in imported Italian cheese last year that killed four people. Other illnesses were linked to tainted papayas, mangoes and pine nuts and spices used as ingredients.

Like rules for domestic farmers and food companies released earlier this year, the idea is to make businesses more responsible for the food they are selling or importing by proving that they are using good food safety practices. They might do that by documenting basic information about their suppliers' cleanliness, testing foods or acquiring food safety audits.

A farm bill passed in the House this month included an amendment sponsored by Republican Rep.

The FDA will take comments on both the domestic and foreign food safety proposals for the next several months and then move to issue final rules.

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