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FSMA – Food Safety Modernization Act

January 13, 2013 8:00 pm1 commentViews: 15

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

The law gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to order recalls of contaminated food, amongst other powers not here disclosed, a power it did not have prior to the possible enactment of the Food Safety Act.As a major overhaul of food safety laws and regulations, the acts stated purpose is to provide a safer food supply and a more stable food industry, but, it will also vastly broaden the power of the FDA to regulate any aspect of food production.

Congress agreed that the need for food safety enhancements was pressing due to the large burden of foodborne illness in the United States.Approximately 48 million people, or 1 out of 6 people in the United States, will suffer from foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year according to CDC estimates.

The FSMA includes five main areas of food safety enhancements:

  • Preventive controls: The FSMA will shift the FDA’s approach to food safety from responding to outbreaks to preventing them. This will be accomplished by holding food production facilities accountable for implementing safe and effective measures to prevent contamination.
  • Inspection and Compliance: The FDA will use existing resources to modify inspection strategies appropriate for the food industry.
  • Imported Food Safety: The legislation gives FDA greater oversight of imported food products into the United States from other countries. The FSMA requires that U.S. importers verify supplier activities to ensure a safe food supply, and allows the FDA to mandate certification and compliance with food safety requirements. Additionally, the FDA can decline admission of imported foods if the foreign producers refuse FDA inspection.
  • Response: The FSMA gives the FDA authority to issue mandatory recalls for all food products.
  • Enhanced Partnerships: The legislation acknowledges the value of strong collaboration among food safety agencies. It includes provisions to build inter-agency collaboration and capacity of food safety programs, and improve training of food safety officials.

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 overhauls the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for everything in the U.S. food supply except for meat, poultry and processed eggs (i.e. not including raw eggs in their shells).Those are overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture. Prior to 2010, food-safety advocates and the food industry had been working on the overhaul for more than a decade. Under the new rules, the FDA’s focus shifts to stopping outbreaks before they start, by requiring farmers to address places in production where contamination might occur and to require processors to implement written food-safety plans.

On January 4, 2013, FDA issued two major proposed FSMA rules regarding preventive controls in human food and produce safety. See the following resources for additional information

FDA will convene 3 public meetings concerning the two proposed rules in Washington DC, Chicago IL, and Portland OR to solicit comments on the proposed rules, respond to questions, and inform the public about the rulemaking process. View the FSMA Meeting page for more information.

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