Fed Finally Makes New Rules on Food Safety.
48 million Americans become sick with food-borne illnesses and 3,000 die every year. As the New York Times reported last month, the Federal government has passed food industry rules to reduce those statistics. Sadly, those rules come 5 years after Congress passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a law aiming to ensure the food supply is safe by shifting the focus to preventing food contamination rather than responding to it. I shutter to think about how many people became sick or died during those 5 years.
To say new rules are overdue is an understatement. It seems nearly every day I’m reading about one recall after the other – salmonella, listeria, E-coli and more.
The Times’ article points out that the new rules only cover peanut butter and ice cream! Rules on fresh produce won’t come out until later this year. Since almost half of fresh fruits and one-fifth of vegetables in this country are imported, I wonder how the FDA can keep us safe, even with new rules, when we try to eat healthy.
The article quotes David Plunkett, a senior staff lawyer at the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s food safety program, about the state of affairs with food manufacturers:
Under the [new] rules, food makers will be required to keep written records, effectively a sort of safety activity log for the production center, and F.D.A. inspectors will have the right to review them. That is a big change. Before, plants were not required to hand over records to inspectors.
Additionally, there will be more inspections now:
The F.D.A. will have far greater enforcement powers, too. Before the law, F.D.A. officials inspected plants only about once every 10 years. The law bumped that up to at least once every five years for high-risk plants and, starting early next year, to once every three years.
The more I learn about our food supply, the more awestruck I am that this is America in 2015. Until now, food manufacturers didn’t need to keep written records in case the FDA needed to inspect them? The FDA is now going to inspect high-risk plants once every three years. Is every three years sufficient for a plant which is deemed “high-risk”?
Is this the best we can do? What will it take for us to do better?