Today (January 4, 2011), President Obama is expected to sign into law a bill that will give more power to the FDA in improving the nation’s food safety. Although one Representative claims that the American food supply is “99.999 percent safe,” about one sixth of the population contracts a food-borne illness each year under the current regulations.
Largely in response to recent outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella, the law will require food manufacturers and large-scale farming operations to provide the FDA with food safety plans covering different stages of production. Small farms will not need to provide such documentation. The law will also allow the FDA to enact mandatory food recalls, instead of the current voluntary recalls, and enable more exact tracings of recalled food origins.
This bill marks the first major change to the U.S. food safety system since the 1930s.
Photo by dcJohn/Courtesy Flickr
This law marks the first major change to the U.S. food safety system since the 1930s. Instead of the current infrequent or non-existent inspections of food production facilities, the FDA will now increase its inspections both domestically and abroad, and the riskiest facilities will be visited every three years. The new law will not cover meat, poultry or egg production as those foods are regulated by the Agriculture Department.
To ensure that you and your family don’t contract food-borne illnesses, consider buying at local farmers’ markets, shopping organically or growing the majority of your own fruits and vegetables yourself. (Check out these garden plans to start your very own kitchen garden.) Additionally, be sure to wash all produce before consumption, or soak it with a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) to remove pesticides and bacteria.