August 6, 2013
FDA Looks to Crack Down on Imported Food
Consumers care deeply about the safety of the food they ingest. But while the FDA works to ensure that the food products bought and sold in America are of the best quality possible, this type of regulation does not exist in every country.
In fact, it might come as a huge surprise to learn that only two percent of imported food is actually inspected by the FDA. The other 98 percent is completely unregulated. And to make matters worse, 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported.
Unfortunately, unregulated imported food is starting to greatly affect American consumers. Most recently, at least 153 people have been sickened by an outbreak of Hepatitis A after ingesting Turkish pomegranate seeds. And according to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, food-borne illness claims the lives of nearly 3,000 people every year.
In response, the FDA is cracking down with a new set of rules intended to curb the amount of damage caused by unregulated imports. The rules include a model designed to reward foreign food companies with incentives for complying with U.S. safety regulatory standards by adhering to positive manufacturing quality control measurements.
"There will be opportunities to see their products move more swiftly (through the import process) if they have a record of compliance," Hamburg stated. "This will increase incentives for companies to fully comply."
According to the Pew Research Group, once the rules are finalized, foreign foods will be held to the same standards as American products. In turn, the playing field will be leveled and work to the benefit of domestic farms, food manufacturers and businesses.
Currently, the Obama administration is in the process of asking for $263 million to provide to the FDA to fund the new food law in 2014. Moreover, $42 million would be delegated to the federal budget authority, while $221 million would be put towards inspection and import-entry fees.
It should be noted, however, that not every provision will require additional funding under the new act—which makes this ideal for the farmers, importers and processors involved in food manufacturing.