FDA Issues Sweeping Food Safety Rules

WASHINGTON (January 4, 2013)—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing the most sweeping food safety rules in decades.

The would require farmers and food companies to be more vigilant in the wake of deadly outbreaks in peanuts, cantaloupe and leafy greens.

The long-overdue rules are aimed at reducing the estimated 3,000 deaths a year from foodborne illness.

Just since this summer, listeria in cheese and salmonella in peanut butter, mangoes and cantaloupe are linked to more than 400 illnesses and as many as seven deaths.

The rules proposed by the FDA Friday will require farmers to take precautions against contamination on the farm, making sure workers' hands are washed, irrigation water is clean, and animals stay out of fields, for example.

Food manufacturers will also have to submit food safety plans to the government.

“Preventing problems before they cause harm is not only common sense, it is the key to food safety in the 21st century,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said.

“We cannot afford to wait until people become ill to realize there is a problem.”

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