The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the first two of seven major rules under the bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) today. This is one of the most significant steps the agency has taken in decades to prevent foodborne illness.

The two rules finalized today, the preventive controls rules, focus on implementing modern food manufacturing processes for both human and animal foods. The preventive controls rules require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans that indicate the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products and outline steps the facility would take to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of those problems occurring. This means that food companies will be accountable for monitoring their facilities and identifying any potential hazards in their products and prevent those hazards. Under these rules, the FDA will be able to assess these systems and their outcomes to prevent problems, will better be able to respond when food safety problems occur, and better protect the safety of manufactured food.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an estimated 48 million people get sick each year from foodborne diseases. Foodborne illness is the cause of approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year. Over the past few years, high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach to peanut products, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.

“Today’s announcement sets us on the path to a modern food safety system that will prevent illnesses and continue to build confidence in the safety of the food served to our families every day,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, acting FDA commissioner.

The seven FSMA rules will be finalized in 2016.

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