According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one in six people suffer a food-borne illness in the United States each year. Sweeping new rules proposed by the FDA in January are intended to reduce the amount of contaminated food reaching consumer tables.

Last year, states from Alabama to California were impacted by salmonella contaminated cantaloupe. In California, recent weeks have seen smoked salmon, romaine lettuce hearts and vacuum-packed smoked fish recalled for possible contamination by listeria and botulism toxins.

Responding to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, the FDA hopes two new rules will proactively address food safety issues and provide stronger government oversight to reduce food contamination.

Given the already stringent food safety culture in our state, experts believe California food producers will not be as heavily impacted as those in other states. The FDA estimates more than 130,000 people are hospitalized across the country and 3,000 die from food-related illness each year. The FDA proposes new rules to reduce those numbers:

  • Reducing contamination: The first rule developed by the FDA requires food producers and processors to develop food safety protocols. Manufacturers must develop plans to maintain food safety, identify potential issues and maintain records for government inspection.
  • Farm safety: The second rule seeks to improve farm safety standards by reducing fruit and vegetable exposure to contaminated water, wildlife, farm workers, and industrial or animal waste.
  • Imported food: The FDA estimates 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is currently imported. A third rule, not yet developed, will address safety and audit standards for food produced outside the country for the American market.

Following a 120-day public comment period, the FDA will complete the regulations and hopefully provide Americans with a stronger, more responsive food safety net. You may wish to consult a products liability lawyer if you have suffered a serious injury as a result of contaminated food.

By Kevin Quinn

Posted in Personal Injury