New US FDA rules tighten requirements for food manufacturers

Sweeping new federal rules will require USA food manufacturers to implement more stringent food-safety operations and preventive measures to avert deadly outbreaks of foodborne illnesses like listeria and salmonella. rules, released Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, follow years of work by regulators amid a rash of foodborne illnesses linked to dirty food processing equipment and poorly designed facilities.

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, called the new rules the most sweeping overhaul of our food safety system since the first federal law was enacted in 1906. The rules, he said, will focus on prevention, as most of the recalls consumers have faced in recent years “are largely preventable.”

The FDA will phase in the new rules over time, beginning in September 2016 for larger food manufacturers. Smaller companies will have longer to comply with the regulations. All of the rules should be in place, Taylor said, by late summer 2018.

The rules, once promoted as an Obama administration priority, ran into long delays and came out under a court-ordered deadline after advocacy groups had sued. Even then, the Food and Drug Administration allowed the Aug. 30 deadline to pass without releasing the rules to the public.

The new rules will require food manufacturers to submit food safety plans to the government to show they are keeping their operations clean. Once the rules go into effect later this year, companies will have to prepare detailed plans that lay out how they handle the food, how they process it, how they clean their facilities and how they keep food at the right temperatures, among other safety measures.