In July the FDA proposed new rules stating that companies will be responsible for checking the safety of food that they directly import. Right now the F.D.A. keeps tabs on the food that is imported but, according to an article in the NY Times, they are really only able to inspect 1-2% of all imports at American borders and ports. The article states that nearly 15% of all food, including almost 2/3 of fresh vegetables and fruit, comes from abroad. This is a large amount of food and strict safety standards must be upheld in order to keep Americans from getting sick. The same safety standards as food grown locally would be applied to food grown in other countries and, with this proposed rule, would be checked directly by the companies importing them.
According to the article, it has yet to be determined if on-site audits of foreign food producers would be required or left up to the American companies discretion. American companies would have to prove that their foreign suppliers were up to safety standards by keeping records of tests results and processes. It is feared that without the on-site audit being required of the companies, that this might become just a “paper exercise.”
I think food safety standards are of the utmost importance and this proposed rule makes a lot of sense. The article says that large companies like Cargill and Walmart already have regulations within their brands like this and they monitor their foreign suppliers carefully. This proposed rule would help prevent food safety problems rather than have the F.D.A have to react to them once they are spotted at the borders.
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Tavernise, Sabrina. “F.D.A Says Importers Must Audit Food Safety.” www.nytimes.com. July 26, 2013. Sept 4, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/health/fda-proposes-rules-to-ensure-safety-of-imported-food.html?pagewanted=all