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Obama Administration: Food Safety Rules Coming

January 8, 2013

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is still working to implement major portions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), legislation that has largely sat in budgetary limbo since President Obama signed it into law on January 4, 2011.

The five major pillars of the FSMA aim to pivot the nation's food system from taking a more reactive to a more preventative approach to food safety. If they reduce foodborne illness rates by even a fraction, they have the potential to save Americans billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year.

The five pillars still awaiting implementation include:

  • Preventive controls: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require science-based preventive controls throughout the food system including preventive control plans, establishing minimum standards for safe production and introducing regulation to help prevent intentional adulteration of food at vulnerable points in the food chain.
  • Inspection and compliance: FDA has new authority to conduct inspections and inspect all high-risk domestic facilities every three years, have access to facility records and will establish a laboratory accreditation process for third-party testing laboratories.
  • Response to violations: FDA will now have the authority to order food recalls – as opposed to recommending voluntary recalls as it does now – in cases of contamination.
  • Oversight of imports: Food importers must now verify that their facilities and preventive controls meet U.S. standards.
  • Collaborative partnerships: Health agencies, both foreign and domestic, will work collaboratively to improve public health goals. FSMA provides FDA with a grant to develop state and local health agencies’ ability to improve food safety at a localized level.

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