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New FDA rule aims to reduce cases of food poisoning, Consumer Reports explains

Posted at 7:50 AM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 08:50:20-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Millions of people get sick each year from contaminated food, and finding the source of the contamination isn’t easy. But that could be changing.

There’s a new plan to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses and deaths by doing a better job at tracking food all of the way to your plate.

Every year an estimated 48 million Americans get sick from bacteria and viruses in their food. Now the Food and Drug Administration is trying to reduce the number of illnesses with its Food Traceability Rule—which covers foods through its entire supply chain.

"This new record-keeping process is going to mean that everyone who touches the food, from the grower who grows it, to the supermarket who sells it, the restaurant that serves it, is going to have to keep track of the food in the exact same way," said Trisha Calvo with Consumer Reports.

That means assigning a code to potentially riskier foods — those prone to contamination such as soft cheeses, eggs, leafy greens, nut butters, and tomatoes — so they can be tracked more efficiently.

"In some cases, this new rule may make it even easier for food to be identified as potentially harmful before it even hits the market and gets into the hands of consumers," Calvo said.

Meat and poultry aren’t included since they’re regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the FDA. Consumer Reports says the new plan isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what’s currently in place.

"Right now, record-keeping of this type is incomplete and inconsistent. So this will standardize everything and it will make it easier for people to follow the food back," Calvo said.

The new rule takes effect in three years — on January 20, 2026.