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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid