In light of a number of massive foodborne illness outbreaks across the country in recent years, the Food and Drug Administration has unveiled more stringent food safety rules. According to USA Today, the rules — which were released yesterday — were culled from "years of work by regulators amid a rash of foodborne illnesses linked to dirty food processing equipment and poorly designed facilities."
The New York Times writes that every year, 48 million Americans become sick from food-related illnesses — that is one in every six people. Unfortunately, 3,000 people also die from foodborne diseases each year. This is something many health officials say "could be significantly reduced if the food industry took a more proactive role in monitoring and reducing risks."
The new rules — most of which go into effect for larger companies in September 2016 — focus on requiring food processing companies to "actively take steps to reduce risks," instead of only acting once an outbreak happens. They also require that food manufactures put "written food safety plans that detail points in the manufacturing process that could be risky" in place.
The idea is to prevent catastrophes like the massive Listeria-related Blue Bell Creameries ice cream recall. The outbreak, which occurred in April, is linked to three deaths in Kansas and additional illnesses in Texas and Kansas. And this month, San Diego-based distributor Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce recalled its cucumbers, which are sold in stores like Walmart and served in restaurants like Red Lobster, over Salmonella fears. The cucumbers are linked to 341 Salmonella cases across 30 states.