News / USA

US to Tighten Food Import Regulations

The United States imports about 15 percent of its food from 150 countries, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. (File photo)
The United States imports about 15 percent of its food from 150 countries, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. (File photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new rules aimed at making imported food safer. The FDA says the rules will hold importers accountable for observing the same safety standards as domestic producers.

The United States imports about 15 percent of its food from 150 countries, according to the FDA.

The agency currently relies on food safety inspectors at the border, who screen less than two percent of the products coming in. FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor says that’s changing.

“The big paradigm shift is the shift toward prevention, and for industry being responsible for documenting what they have done to prevent problems,” he said.

The FDA would require importers to examine their entire supply chains, from farm to shelf, and identify where the safety hazards are. Companies would need to document what they have done to control those hazards.

Taylor says the new rules will make food safer and not just in the United States.

“We are also directed to work with foreign governments to build their capacity to oversee food safety in ways that can strengthen food safety in their countries as well as in the United States,” he said.

For example, FDA capacity-building could help many developing-world governments that are involved in the spice industry, according to Cheryl Deem, executive director of the American Spice Trade Association. She says the industry has taken steps to control the hazards along its supply chains after recent disease outbreaks linked to spices.  But she says some companies still have concerns.

“They want to be doing the right thing," Deem said. "They want to make sure they’re in compliance, but they’re concerned about the cost, and who’s going to bear that cost ultimately.”

The cost, and who bears it, still have to be worked out. The FDA estimates preventive controls could cost foreign companies between $300 million and $500 million in total.

But implementing the rules will also cost the agency about $500 million, and where that extra funding will come from is not clear. President Obama has proposed charging companies new fees to cover part of the costs. But many in the food industry oppose that idea.

It has been more than two-and-a-half years since Congress called for new food safety rules on imports. Since then, there have been outbreaks linked to imported mangoes, papayas, sesame tahini paste, pomegranate seeds and more, notes Sandra Eskin with the Pew Charitable Trusts advocacy group.

“These recent outbreaks just underscore the importance of these rules and how important it is to get them finalized as soon as possible," Eskin said. "The longer it takes, the more people will needlessly get sick.”

It will take at least 18 months for the rules to go through public comment and revision, and another year or more before they take effect.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid