Proposed Rules Will Strengthen Global Food Safety

By: Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

It’s a small world.

Every day, there’s a good chance that some of the food you’re eating came from another country. Fifteen percent of the food we eat, including nearly 50 percent of the fresh fruit and 20 percent of vegetables, is imported each year.

Margaret Hamburg, M.D.That’s why it’s so important that we do everything we can to help ensure that foods exported to the United States are safe for you and your family. To that end, two new rules that we propose today focus on preventing food safety problems before they happen.

These rules would make importers more accountable for food safety, and would enhance our ability to monitor conditions and standards in foreign facilities that produce and process food.

While we will continue to rely on inspections at U.S. ports of entry to keep contaminated foods from entering our country, under these proposed rules, we will significantly enhance our ability to identify issues before food gets to our shores.

The bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed by President Obama in January 2011, calls for a new level of accountability for everyone involved in the food supply chain, even if that chain begins halfway around the world.

So, in accordance with FSMA, we are proposing these rules:

  • The Foreign Supplier Verification rule will require importers to verify that foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner consistent with U.S. standards. Under the proposed rule, in general, importers would be required to identify potential hazards associated with each food and verify that appropriate steps have been taken to adequately control those hazards.
  • The Accredited Third Party Certification proposed rule would establish a system to strengthen the quality and credibility of safety audits and certifications for food exported to the United States.

These two proposed rules build on two other FSMA rules proposed earlier this year focused on ensuring the safety of produce and food facilities.

In the century that has passed since President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, food safety has been a driving force for FDA and part of our core mission.

We know that to protect American consumers, our work doesn’t stop at national borders. The world may be changing, but FDA’s mission to continue to ensure the safety of the food supply for you and your family has not.

Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., is Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration

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