March 5, 2019 — The FDA has unveiled a plan to improve the safety of food imported to the U.S. from other countries.
In February, FDA released its “Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food” to outline the agency’s plan to ensure the safety of imported food.
The U.S. imports about 15% of its overall food supply from over 200 countries or territories. Those imports involved about 13.8 million food shipments in 2018. Food shipments are expected to increase in 2019.
According to the FDA, “the U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world,” but the agency has a big job. The U.S. imports 55% of fruit, 32% of vegetables, and 94% of seafood from other countries.
The agency must monitor the food supply for bacteria like Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria monocytogenes.
With the Food Safety Modernization Act, lawmakers tasked the FDA with shifting food safety oversight from a reactive to proactive role. That means the FDA is allowed to mandate standards for foreign growers, processors and packers to be equal to standards in the U.S.
The agency has outlined a number of initiatives to improve food safety efforts in other countries, including:
- Optimizing the use of foreign facility inspectors
- Hold foreign suppliers to U.S. food safety standards
- Allow information from 3rd-party audits and other programs aligned with U.S. requirements
- Work with domestic and foreign regulatory counterparts on food and facility oversight by sharing data
- Provide training/outreach to foreign industry, importers, brokers, and regulatory counterparts to increase compliance.
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