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)
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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid