November 26, 2014

OMB, FDA Finally Release Two Food Safety Modernization Act Rules

Bags of Produce Marked 100% OrganicThe Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has finally released two proposed food safety rules that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Four crucial rules have been held back for more than a year after they were to be implemented. The Food Safety Moderization Act (FSMA) was signed into law almost two years ago.

The first rule is Controls for Human Food. The new rule requires that most human food facilities have a written plan that evaluates hazards that are likely to occur in that food, specifies the steps that will be used to minimize or prevent those hazards, and specify how the controls will be monitored. In addition, the facility will be required to maintain routine records of the monitoring, and specify the actions that will be taken when problems arise. Planning and execution of the plans will be done under the authority of the FDA.

The second rule governs Produce Safety. This rule has been greatly anticipated, especially since two large foodborne illness outbreaks last year were linked to Salmonella in cantaloupe and mangoes. This rule addresses parts of agriculture that can contaminate produce, including irrigation and other agricultural water, farm worker hygiene, manure and other soil additions, animal intrusion in growing fields, and sanitation condition in equipment, buildings, and tools. Provisions that will affect growing, harvesting, and packing of sprouts are also included.

Consumer groups are welcoming the release of these rules. Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, said in a statement, “preventive controls and produce safety are cornerstones of FDA’s new preventive system. We are eager to review the proposals and provide comments to the agency.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest also welcomed the regulations, stating that “the new law should transform the FDA from an agency that tracks down outbreaks after the fact, to an agency focused on preventing food contamination in the first place.”

The rules will be published in the Federal Register next Monday. The public can comment on the rules at that time. We’ll post the link to the comment section when it becomes available.

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