After input from farmers, consumers, and food industry experts alike, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal to revise four parts of its Food Safety Modernization Act last week.
The original law was established in 2011 after the U.S. saw major outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli, and listeria in spinach, eggs, peanuts, and cantaloupe. Many of these instances were caused by unclean equipment, unsanitary growing and storage conditions, and animal waste, which all led the government to shift the focus on how to prevent foodborne illness, rather than continually issuing a response to problems after they occurred.
Still, critics saw some of the law's provisions as too burdensome for farmers, and likely to cause economic hardships as it could cost some farms tens of thousands of dollars per year to abide by the regulations.
The new rules will reevaluate water quality testing procedures to allow for "natural variations in water sources," and will permit crops to be harvested earlier if using raw manure as fertilizer. Traditional food safety precautions, including hand-washing, clean irrigation water, and fields free of grazing animals, will not see changes.
According to Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, the revisions will act as "a more flexible and targeted means to ensure food safety."
The FDA plans on keeping an open conversation for the next 75 days in order to review comments from both sides of the issue. The changes will officially take effect in 2015.
Most people recover from instances of food poisoning in a few days. However, serious cases of food poisoning can be debilitating. You may experience anything from diarrhea and vomiting to dehydration, extremely high fever, and abdominal pain. That's why it's important to get help as soon as possible.