Importers to be Accountable for Food Safety

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The United States department of Food and Drug safety have tightened their reigns on imports in an effort to ensure the safety of foods arriving into the United States.

The newly proposed rules arrived on Friday, in light of the legislation passed by Congress in 2011 to prevent importing contaminated foodstuffs.

The Food and Drug administration proposed rules that for the first time ensure companies take full responsibility in checking the quality of what they are bringing into the country.

The new rule is welcomed by many of the major importers, however the devil’s advocates are also doing their job by weeding out potential problems. Some are suggesting a potential pitfall could be the inspections the companies would have to do at the site of importation. Such inspections would need to be authorized and supervised.

What issue is this law addressing?

The globalization of the food trade appears to be on the firing line, as reported by the NY Times, where 15 % of food consumed by Americans comes from another country. This may not seem like a huge amount however the percentage of imported food has seen a relativity big spark in a short space of time, having more than doubled within the last ten years.

The food safety law was signed in by President Obama on January 4 2011 and is designed to be a catalyst in shifting from the treatment of contamination, to the prevention.

In a summary posted on the FDA’s website, an outline is provided for the new rules;

  • “Identify hazards associated with each food;
  • Conduct or obtain documentation of verification activities, which could include onsite auditing, sampling and testing, to provide adequate assurances that the identified hazards are being controlled; and
  • Take appropriate corrective action if hazards are not being adequately controlled.”

“We will continue to check food at our borders. However, rather than relying almost entirely on FDA’s investigators at the ports to detect and respond to food safety problems, importers would—for the first time—be held accountable for verifying, in a manner transparent to FDA, that the food they import is safe,” says Michael R. Taylor, J.D., foods and veterinary medicine deputy commissioner

It is still unclear as to how this will affect the root cause of this issue, and what is the root cause? And how is enforcing tighter import controls going to help a situation where the majority of food (domestic or international) bought in stores have a transformed nutritional value due to the various process that happen in foodstuffs when they are altered in anyway, whether it be to enhance the aesthetic or promote a lengthened shelf life.

The rules, coming in at a hefty price tag could promote more localized food sources, more business for the local farmers, or perhaps instead of an absurdly wasteful lawn of grass, a functional garden that provides a family with real nutritional value. This could be a threatening notion for major healthcare companies.

The new law could mean an upgrade to the way food is being imported into the country in various ways. Besides weeding out contaminated food, the rules stimulate responsibility and accountability. The companies have a greater responsibility to check their imports and accountability for it. The problem of food contamination is one symptom of a glitch in the system; a glitch relevant authorities can’t (or won’t) see clearly.

The next question to address on this subject would be the quality of the seed, for if the seed is corrupt, the crop will be corrupt. The subject of heritage seed and seed patenting is intricate as well as interesting, as it effects us all.

For a detailed and exact account of the Consumer update, see here

Jessica Rosslee

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