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Broad Rule Changes proposed for fighting Food Contamination

The new change is a long awaited attempt at codifying the law for food safety that the U.S. Congress approved over two years ago

The new change is a long awaited attempt at codifying the law for food safety that the U.S. Congress approved over two years ago

Jan 05, 2013 – On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal of two new sweeping rules that are aimed at preventing contamination of processed foods and produce, which have been responsible for sickening tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year for a number of years.

The proposed new rules represent a change in how the agency will police food, a process that at present involves not taking action until after contamination has already been identified. The new change is a long awaited attempt at codifying the law for food safety that the U.S. Congress approved over two years ago.

Changes will include the requirement for better keeping of records, contingency plans to handle outbreaks and new measures to prevent spreading of contaminants. Food producers would have some latitude in determining the execution of the new rules, farmers must ensure that the water used in their irrigation met standards, while food processors would have to find new ways to keep fresh uncooked food, that could contain bacteria from touching food already cooked.

Other safety measures that will be new might include the need for farm workers to clean their hands, the installation of portable toilets and making sure the cooked foods are cooked at a sufficiently high enough temperature to kill any bacteria.

Whether some of the new expense would be passed on to consumers is unclear, but the FDA estimated that the new proposals would add a cost to food producers of thousands of dollars annually.

The question now is whether Congress is in agreement to approve the necessary money to support the new changes. Over $220 million in his budget for 2013 was requested by President Obama, but the FDA commissioners said resources were still a continuing concern.

One out of every six Americans becomes ill due to eating food that is contaminated each year. Most recover without any concern, but close to 130,000 have to be hospitalized and over 3,000 die.

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