FDA Outlines New Hygiene Standards For Food Industry

One of the major criticisms leveled at the Food and Drug Administration is that it often acts only after foodborne illness has become widespread. The FDA has proposed two new rules that are intended to help in the prevention of foodborne illnesses by improving the hygiene standards of produce farms and food manufacturers. FDA director Margaret Hamburg described the rules as a “major step forward” in stopping foodborne illnesses before they start. The rules are currently open for public comment.

Illnesses spread by food are a massive problem. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes roughly 3,000 deaths a year to these illnesses. An addition 130,000 people go to the hospital every year in the United States because of a contaminant in their food. Pathogens grow quickly on many types of food and it is vital for manufacturers to maintain the highest standards to protect consumers from harm.

One of the two rules is directed at farms and is intended to prevent contamination of produce with pathogens such as salmonella and e. coli. It aims to reduce the spread of these pathogens by dictating safe practices regarding irrigation water, employee hygiene, fertilizer and access to the crops by wild animals. The second rule affects food manufacturers and targets areas of concern in food processing.

By following proper safety protocols, farms and food manufacturers can greatly reduce the number of illnesses and deaths caused by foodborne illness. The new rules will hopefully ensure that the food supply is safe for consumers.

Source: Medpage Today, “FDA Moves to Prevent Foodborne Disease,” by Michael Smith, 4 January 2013