Editorial: FDA should help businesses comply with new rules

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, one in six Americans will have a food-borne illness every year.

Of those, nearly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

Since last summer there have been outbreaks of salmonella in peanut butter produced in New Mexico, as well as salmonella in mangoes and cantaloupes and listeria in cheese.

These contaminations have been linked to more than 400 illnesses and as many as seven deaths.

Last week, the FDA released draft rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law in January 2011.

The new rules, which are up for public comment, would require farmers to take new precautions against contamination, including making sure workers' hands are washed, irrigation water is clean, and animals stay out of fields.

Manufacturers will have to submit food safety plans to show they are keeping their operations clean.

The second rule proposes enforceable science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.

The focus of these two rules — and others coming soon — is on preventing deaths and disruption to the food system from food-borne illnesses and improving public health and reducing medical costs.

Americans should expect their food to be as safe as possible.

At the same time, regulators should work with businesses to help them comply and get them back into production quickly when they have corrected problems.

— Albuquerque Journal

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