Friday, May 6, 2011

FDA Issues New Food-Safety Regulations

The FDA published two new rules on Wednesday designed to give the agency more power to detain unsafe food and identify potentially hazardous imported foods. 

Under the first rule, FDA will be able to seize food that agents believe could have been processed in unsanitary or unsafe conditions and hold it for up to 30 days.  Previously, the agency could only hold food products if there was specific evidence it was adulterated and presented a serious threat to life.

The second rule requires anyone importing food or animal feed into the United States to tell the FDA if any country has blocked importation of the same product. This requirement will give the agency more information about imported foods, improving its ability to target foods that may be hazardous, officials said. 

The new reporting requirement will be administered through the FDA's existing system requiring prior notice of incoming shipments of imported food, established under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.

The new rules were issued under the authority of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in January.  The law gave the FDA greater authority to regulate the U.S. food supply. The law also gave the FDA the power to issue mandatory recalls for companies that did not voluntarily recall contaminated products.

Both new regulations are scheduled to take effect Jul 3, but the FDA will accept comments on them until Aug 3, according to notices published today in the Federal Register.

May 5 Federal Register notice on new administration detention rule.

May 5 Federal Register notice on food import reporting rule