by: Jonathan Knoll, Attorney
In previous blog articles, you have had the opportunity to learn how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works to protect consumers from dangerous medical device FDA fruit.jpgand pharmaceutical products. But, did you know that the FDA’s focus is not only on protecting consumers from dangerous medical devices and drugs? In this article, I’ll discuss another area where the FDA works to protect consumers, that being in the area of food safety.

According to a New York Times article, the FDA is responsible for the safety of about 80 percent of the food Americans eat. The FDA has stated that about 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported from other countries, which includes about 50 percent of the fresh fruits and 20 percent of the fresh vegetables. Unfortunately, according to a New York Times article, while the FDA tries to keep watch on imported food, the FDA manages to inspect only 1-2 percent of all imported food at American ports and borders. And, as an article in USA Today points out, “[i]mported food is responsible for a disproportionate number of food-borne illnesses. According to the food safety program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, eight of the 19 reported multi-state food-borne illness outbreaks linked to FDA-regulated products since 2011 were from imports.”
Recently, the FDA proposed new rules to improve the safety of imported food. The new rules are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011. The focus of the FSMA is to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by preventing the importation of contaminated foods that could harm consumers.
Among the proposed new rules is a requirement that U.S. food importers verify that the food they import from foreign suppliers meets the same safety standards as required of food produced here in the United States. This is good news for consumers because it will help ensure that the food Americans eat, regardless of whether it is imported or produced domestically, is subject to the same safety requirements. Additionally, instead of reacting to problems when they arise, the proposed new rules will help prevent food safety problems before they occur.
If you would like to comment or learn more about the proposed new rules, you can visit the FDA’s website. The FDA will be accepting comments on the proposed rules for 120 days.