The FDA proposed new rules today that would require US food distributors to implement additional measures to combat food-borne illness. The guidelines are aimed at improving food handling in both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors after a series of recent disease outbreaks in peanuts, cantaloupe, cheese, and leafy green vegetables that killed scores of Americans.
Food safety organizations welcomed the new rules after a long delay.
“Under the old rules, we’ve been reacting to food contaminations after they happened,” Ami Gadhia of Consumers Union said in a statement. ”The goal here is to prevent deadly outbreaks before people get hurt. We’re anxious to dive deep into these proposed rules so we can review and comment on the details.”
One rule would require growers, manufacturers and distributors to develop formal plans for preventing contamination, including techniques for cleaning equipment and keeping animals out of crops. Mandatory contingency plans for outbreaks would also be required of businesses, to be approved by the government. The rule would apply to both foreign and domestic suppliers, provided their goods are bound for US consumption.
Another rule proposes enforceable safety standardization in the production and harvesting of produce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 3,000 Americans died last year from food-borne illnesses, with an additional 130,000 hospitalized.