FDA airs plan to strengthen rules for imported foods - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

FDA airs plan to strengthen rules for imported foods

Updated: Sep 19, 2013 09:22 AM EDT
© Ryan McVay / Photodisc / Thinkstock © Ryan McVay / Photodisc / Thinkstock
By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The public will have its first chance Thursday and Friday to weigh in on new federal rules aimed at improving the safety of food imported into the United States.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's first public meeting on imported food safety rules that the agency initially proposed in July is taking place in Washington, D.C.

About 15 percent of the total U.S. food supply is imported from other countries, including nearly 50 percent of fresh fruit and 20 percent of fresh vegetables, according to the FDA.

Recent food-borne illness outbreaks have increased public concern over the safety of this food supply chain.

For example, at least 153 Americans contracted hepatitis A during the summer from frozen pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey. Around the same time, lettuce imported from Mexico caused at least 642 people to fall ill with cyclosporiasis, a parasitic infection that causes severe diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, according to the FDA.

The public meeting will focus on two programs the FDA has proposed through its new rules:

  • The Foreign Supplier Verification Program would hold food importers liable for keeping track of the safety of the food they bring into the country. Those who fail to protect consumers could be banned from the import business.
  • The Accredited Third-Party Audits and Certification Program would create a system for providing credentials to auditors in other countries who would be tasked with inspecting farms and food facilities.

The rules are being created as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in January 2011.

"It is all part of a global movement to elevate food safety standards and to make sure those elevated standards are being met," said Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. "The important thing is to really see these rules as an integrated package. They're all about achieving in a comprehensive way the implementation of modern approaches to food safety, whether it comes from the U.S. or overseas."

About 426 people had registered by Tuesday to attend the meeting, with 32 signed up to give public comment, the FDA said.

Taylor expects to receive comment from consumers groups, U.S. food growers and producers, food importers and members of the international community. "We believe there's going to be a strong turnout from the embassies here in Washington," he said.

The United States desperately needs to improve its regulation of imported food, said Sandra Eskin, director for food safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

"Right now all we have, if we're lucky, is point-of-entry inspection," Eskin said. "The FDA has estimated that between 1 and 2 percent of products imported are inspected at the border. That doesn't sound like a very strong safety net. That's the importance of this proposed program."

There are a number of outstanding questions about the proposed rule that need to be addressed, Eskin said. Pew officials plan to testify at the public meeting and highlight these questions, she said.

For instance, she added, there needs to be more detail regarding the verification process that importers must implement.

"An importer for the first time is going to be held responsible for the safety of the products he brings into the country," Eskin said. "We want to make sure that the verification programs actually result in a reliable determination. That's critical to the whole foundation of this program."

Pew also wants to make sure that potential conflicts of interest are taken into account when credentialing third-party auditors, and that the standards that auditors must meet are clear and exacting, she said.

The FDA has announced two other public meetings on its proposal. The second will take place in Miami on Oct. 10-11, and the third will take place in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 22-23. Written comments are due to the FDA by the end of November.

"Those are two big ports, and they will probably flesh out the specifics and raise some more questions during those meetings," Eskin said.

More information

For more on food-borne illnesses, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Monday, July 21 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-21 21:15:13 GMT
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
  • Extreme Workouts

    Extreme Workouts

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:04:23 GMT
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
  • Extreme Skin

    Extreme Skin

    Thursday, July 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-17 21:15:05 GMT
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
  • Extreme Diets

    Extreme Diets

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-16 21:15:07 GMT
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
  • Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-15 21:15:08 GMT
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
  • Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Wednesday, July 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
  • Ankle Replacement

    Ankle Replacement

    Tuesday, July 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-08 21:15:10 GMT
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
  • 3D Knee

    3D Knee

    Monday, July 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-07 21:15:09 GMT
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
  • Breath of Life for Heart Patients

    Breath of Life for Heart Patients

    Thursday, July 3 2014 6:20 PM EDT2014-07-03 22:20:13 GMT
    Heart failure, 5.7 million people in the U.S. have it and 55-thousand die from it each year. By definition, it means your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support all your other organs. Now, a simple breath test could make it easier and faster for doctors to diagnose.more>>
    Heart failure, 5.7 million people in the U.S. have it and 55-thousand die from it each year. By definition, it means your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support all your other organs. Now, a simple breath test could make it easier and faster for doctors to diagnose.more>>
  • Concave Chest In Teens

    Concave Chest In Teens

    Wednesday, July 2 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-02 21:15:06 GMT
    Can you imagine being a teenage boy, living at the beach, and not having enough confidence to take your shirt off and not having enough energy to even take a walk? The condition is called concave chest. One-in-500 kids will be born with it.more>>
    Can you imagine being a teenage boy, living at the beach, and not having enough confidence to take your shirt off and not having enough energy to even take a walk? The condition is called concave chest. One-in-500 kids will be born with it.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.