The Food Safety Bill: What It Means For You

by in Food News, Food Safety, December 10, 2010

caution

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that tens of millions of Americans become ill and thousands die from foodborne illnesses each year. With the rapidly increasing rate of foodborne illnesses hitting the United States, something needs to be done. That’s where the new food safety bill comes into play.

A Little Background
There have been several recent foodborne illness outbreaks within the United States, including the largest egg recall in U.S. history. Imported food is also of concern — with loosey goosey guidelines set up in other countries, this enables bacteria, viruses and other microbes to come into our country. Parasites like Cryptosporiasis originated from raspberries imported from Guatemala. If we had better food safety control over imported foods, perhaps some outbreaks could have been avoided. The new bill is set up to address both these reoccurring issues and to help protect our food supply. We shouldn’t have to worry about the food we bring home from the market.

The Bill
A new food safety bill passed in the Senate last week would require new planning and record-keeping guidelines for food producers. It would also give the FDA more power to recall contaminated foods. Until now they were only able to negotiate with the food company to get them to voluntarily recall the food. The bill would also:

  • Require the FDA to create new food safety guidelines for higher-risk fruits and vegetables.
  • Require larger food processors and manufacturers to register with the FDA and create detailed food safety plans.
  • Establish stricter food safety policies for imported food.
  • Increase inspections of U.S.-based and foreign food facilities.

After the Senate bill passed, legislators found a small snafu in its wording. The bill allows the FDA to assess fees on food producers and importers who have recalls or fail inspections. Per the constitution, this is considered a money-making measure, which means that this bill must come from the House. This part is still being ironed out by legislation, but we hope it passes before the end of this legislative session!

Update 1/3/2011: President Obama will sign this bill into law on January 4, 2011.

TELL US: What do you think of the new food safety bill?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (8)

  1. [...] Read more here: The Food Safety Bill: What It Means For You [...]

  2. [...] Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog [expanded by feedex.net] Posted in Healthy Eating [...]

  3. VirginiaGirl says:

    My husband is a USDA meat inspector. While all of these new regulations are fine, it gets out of hand, too. Think back to when many of us were children – we ate rare hamburger (and lived). We picked up apples off the ground in a meadow and munched away on them (and lived). We ate lettuce right from the farmer's market – giving it little more than a fresh water rinse (and lived). veggietestkitchen is right in their remarks – all of this increases costs to the consumer!

    And, if I might add – the inspectors who take the heat are underpaid (my hubby makes under $40K after 15 years as an inspector – and he has a B.S. degree in Biology – which is required), overworked, understaffed, etc.

    There needs to be more pay, a little more common sense and calming on this issue, and people taking responsibility for their own food — if you are worried about e.coli — cook your meat to 160 degrees! Don't count on the government to detect every trace molecule of bacteria for you. Wash you veggies, your fruits, etc.

  4. Sha Jelden says:

    There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.Keep working ,great job!

  5. Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!

  6. im_pinoy says:

    For me , This is great that they create a bill for this . The food safety bill will lessen the rate of food borne disease since it requires increase inspections of the food before it will be release.

  7. Souls in the Waves…

    Good Early morning, I just stopped in to visit your website and considered I’d say I experienced myself….

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