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U.S. Aims to Create New Safety Rules for Imported Goods

Update Date: Jul 26, 2013 12:04 PM EDT

In recent news, reports have found imported goods to be the culprits of several cases of infections. The recent cyclospora outbreak that has sickened over 200 people from the Midwest is believed to be caused by imported produce. The case of the hepatitis A outbreak earlier this month was caused by imported cases of pomegranates. These events have suggested that regulations of imported goods are not strict enough, leaving people at risk of infections. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it plans on finding new ways of regulating imported foods in order to keep produce safe within the United States.

The new proposal, which is meant to enforce better guidelines on checking the safety of imported produce, was the result of a food safety law passed by Congress over two and a half years ago. As of right now, the government inspects only around two percent of imported food at the U.S. ports and borders. Current regulations require the companies purchasing the foods to inspect the foods, something that have not been too effective other the past years. Even though these companies are supposed to make sure the produce is safe to eat, they were never forced to prove the safety of the imported goods before. These new regulations would now require U.S. food importers to verify the safety of the produce based on the standards already set in the country. These new guidelines will also now improve the audits of international food facilities as well. These guidelines could end up costing the food industry up to $472 million every year.

Despite the potential costs these guidelines will impose, the FDA has stated that these rules have long been overdue. The current global food system will continue to expand and become more complex. By setting these guidelines forcing food companies to regulate their produce more efficiently, they can help keep produce safe and prevent illnesses to a greater extent.   

Imported foods make up around 15 percent of the food eaten by Americans. Of this percentage, around half of them are fruits and another 20 percent are vegetables. Roughly 3,000 people die from a foodborne illness per year 

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