251465 Landmark Food Safety Law Enacted in January 2011: What Will It Mean for Public Health?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Erik Olson, JD , The Pew Health Group, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC
While most food in the U.S. is relatively safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, over 48 million Americans are sickened by their food, over 120,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. We are increasingly relying upon a global food supply that includes fresh and processed foods produced around the world, often imported from countries without a strong government food safety regime. FDA, which regulates about 80 percent of the U.S. food supply (most everything except meat and poultry), is able to check only about one percent of imported foods, and inspects domestic food facilities once a decade on average.

After years of debate in Congress, on January 4, 2011, President Obama signed the historic bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the first major overhaul of the nation's food safety law in over 70 years. The new law will refocus FDA from primarily reacting to foodborne disease outbreaks and adulteration incidents after they occur, to preventing contamination of the food supply before it happens. The new law requires, among other things: food manufacturers to put into place new preventive controls; FDA to issue safety standards for fresh produce; the agency to conduct more frequent domestic and foreign inspections, based on risk likely posed by the facility; and the federal government to establish a new regime requiring stronger protections for imported foods. This session will discuss issues and concerns with the past and current food safety regulatory system and what will change under this important new law.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1.List the major gaps in the current food safety regulatory system. 2.Identify measures in the new food safety law that will close those gaps.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee food programs for The Pew Health Group of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.