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The New Food Safety Bill – Do You Bite?

January 7, 2011

Do you feel safer with the new Food Safety Bill?

This week, President Obama signed the revolutionary Food Safety Modernization Act into law, a $1.4 billion proposition and the most sweeping policy related to food safety in almost 100 years – this nearly two years after a salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated peanuts sparked renewed focus on the FDA’s food-safety function. The United States has also seen high-profile recalls of eggs, spinach and other products in recent years and a mass recall of sprouts just this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that about one in six Americans gets sick, and 3,000 die, from food borne diseases each year.

But what does all this policy jargon mean to YOU?  Let’s boil it down:

If you’re a restaurant, food manufacturer or distributor:

– Increased number of facility inspections and food safety records to be reviewed

– Mandatory recalls if a company does not volunteer to stop selling tainted products, trace food outbreaks to its source and step up food inspections. In the past, company recalls were not enforced

– Owners, operators, or agents in charge of a food facility must identify and implement preventive controls to significantly minimize or prevent hazards that could affect food manufactured, processed, packed, or held by such facility.

– Allows for fines to be imposed on companies that have issued recalls and food facility re-inspections.

If you’re a consumer:

– Possibly higher food prices, from grocery stores to restaurants. Everyone will be absorbing the increases.

– More traceable food. Manufacturers will now be required to implement a traceability program. Look for scan codes on every piece of produce you purchase.

– Voluntary food allergy and anaphylaxis management guidelines for schools and early childhood education programs.

– Hopefully, much safer food across the board.  But then again, can the government really control it all, or are they biting off more than they can chew?

Weigh in.

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