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FDA Announces New Steps to Improve Food Safety in U.S.

New rules focus on cleanliness of manufacturing facilities

FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new steps Thursday to improve the cleanliness of food manufacturing plants in the wake of a string of foodborne illness outbreaks.

Under two new rules that take effect later this year, manufacturers of human and animal foods must submit food safety plans to the FDA showing how they keep their facilities clean and how they’ll react to possible safety issues. The new preventive measures can help ensure that foodborne illnesses and the disruptions they cause will be eliminated, Michael Taylor, J.D., FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said during a morning media briefing.

The rules come under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. President Obama signed the law in January 2011 but implementation has been delayed. The new procedures represent the first sweeping changes to U.S. food safety laws in 70 years, according to the agency.

Rather than only reacting to outbreaks, companies now will have to keep them from occurring. Manufacturers must take steps to prevent, or kill, harmful bacteria. In addition, companies should enhance food allergen control processes. Health regulators want to expand prevention measures to farms, where contamination is harder to control than in factories. Oversight of imported foods, which account for 15 percent of the U.S. food supply, will also improve. Importers will have more responsibility to ensure foods are safe and meet the same standards as domestic producers, the agency said.

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