FDA Issues First Rules Under New Food Safety Bill

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Photo: Natalie Maynor

It was a game changer and a surprising one at that. Folks on Capitol Hill pronounced the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act dead, but in an end of year surprise, it unanimously passed the Senate. The bill gave the FDA power to recall tainted food. Until recently, only private companies had the right to recall and pull their own products. And most recently, according to Food Production Daily, the FDA has issued its first regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act.The new rules are set to be implemented July 3. According to Food Production Daily:

The first regulation allows the FDA to detain foods that the agency believes to have been produced under unsanitary or unsafe conditions, when until now the FDA had only been authorized to hold products if they had been produced or mislabeled in a way that could cause "serious adverse health consequences or death" to people or animals. From July 3, the FDA will have the authority to hold products that it believes are adulterated or misbranded for up to 30 days.

The second rule is specifically targeted to food imports:

In addition, a second rule will prohibit food from being imported into the United States if any other country has already blocked the same product. This means that anyone importing food into the US will have to report to the FDA if a country has refused entry to the same product, including animal feed.

The bill initially created angst with small farmers who contended that the regulations would put undue pressure on them and in some cases, force them out of business, but in the end, many of the fears were quieted because a "manager's amendment" was added to the bill.

"Farmers who make less than $500,000 a year in revenue and sell directly to consumers, restaurants or grocery stores within their states or within 275 miles of their farms would avoid the expensive food safety plans required of larger operations. State and local authorities would still have oversight over those farms," according to Huffington Post.

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