Close-up of a strawberry

Photo by Debora Cartagena, courtesy Public Health Image Library

Two years after President Barack Obama signed into law a major overhaul of the nation’s food safety system, the Food and Drug Administration Friday proposed rules that will provide greater protections for consumers.

One rule, announced under the Food Safety Modernization Act, establishes manufacturing practices such as conducting hazard analysis, setting risk-based preventive controls and establishing monitoring procedures to keep salmonella, E. coli and other pathogens out of the food supply. The other sets standards for produce, including requirements for the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption. Both establish science-based standards for food safety.

In a call with stakeholders last week, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg noted that roughly 3,000 people die and about 130,000 are hospitalized each year due to foodborne illness. Hamburg said that the modern framework of the act and the proposed rules will help protect consumers and families for years to come.

Food safety advocate Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said, “These proposed regulations are a sign of progress that should be welcomed by consumers and the food industry alike.”

Still pending under the new law is a rule addressing the safety of imported food.

“America’s increasingly global food supply demands a robust system that ensures that importers are living up to the same high standards we require of domestic producers,” DeWaal said in a statement.

The proposed rules are now open for public comment for 120 days.