US plans to make food importers meet domestic standards | Nutrition & Health |

26 July 2013, Bloomberg News, Stephanie Armour -- "Food imported into the United States will have to meet the same safety standards as domestic products under a government proposal that would put more responsibility for policing safety on companies and their suppliers.


Importers will have to verify that foreign suppliers have controls to prevent contamination, and the U.S. will establish a system to recognize organizations that accredit industry-run inspectors, according to two regulations proposed Friday.


The rules stem from the $1.4 billion Food Modernization Safety Act, passed in 2011 after hundreds of people were poisoned.


About 15 percent of the U.S. food supply originates outside the nation’s borders, including 50 percent of fresh fruits and 20 percent of fresh vegetables. The new rules focus on supply-chain management, providing extra consumer protection as the Food and Drug Administration said it’s only capable of inspecting less than 2 percent of imports.


“We all share the goal and are committed to being sure imported food is as safe as domestic food, and it’s a challenge,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food, said in an interview. “We’re in the midst of a process to make sure there are the right prevention standards that protect consumers and protect the food system.”


The new regulations for importers to meet the safety standards will cost the industry as much as $500 million a year, Taylor later said on a conference call.