FDA Establishes New Rules To Prevent Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

In the wake of multiple food-borne illness outbreaks, the Food and Drug Administration released a new set of regulations Friday regarding the safety and cleanliness of produce and imported foods. The rules require importers and distributers to make sure food is clean. The importers and distributors must also provide auditing services to evaluate procedures at foreign food suppliers. The rules will operate as primary prevention against outbreaks. This type of front-line action is vital, considering the FDA and CDC often can only respond after people have already fallen ill from contaminated food.

Click here for the History's Worst Food Poisoning Outbreaks slideshow.

Foodborne illness outbreaks not only sicken and hospitalize hundreds, they can also be deadly. Recently, an outbreak of Salmonella from imported cucumbers crossed state lines, sickening hundreds and killing four Americans. It is precisely these types of dangerous outbreaks that the new rules hope to prevent. "For the first time these rules are going to require producers, growers, and importers to ensure that the food they produce or import has minimal contamination," said Sarah Eskin, director of food safety research at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Prior to this new law, food importers were rarely held responsible for the safety of their products. Now, with random spot testing, health officials will be able to stop outbreaks at the source before food even enters stores. Given that more than half of all fresh fruit and 22 percent of fresh vegetables consumed in the United States are imported, this new law is essential to making our food system safer.

The accompanying slideshow is provided by fellow Daily Meal editorial staff member Dan Myers.