Parasites found on imported fresh fruits and vegetables have sickened people in large areas of the United States. Much of the food we eat comes from other countries. Nearly half of the nation’s fruit and 20% of the vegetables come from abroad.
The only inspectors of food coming into our country are the Food and Drug Administration and Dept. of Agriculture, but under the current system, the FDA screens less than 2% of imported food. The FDA is trying to propose new legislation which would require importers to prove that foreign suppliers have food safety programs that meet U.S. standards, and give the FDA new enforcement powers to monitor these programs and stop shipments from supplies that do not follow the rules. The new regulations will cost the industry more than $480 million to implement, but these changes will help to prevent outbreaks of food-born illnesses, instead of reacting after one has occurred.
“We have to have clear and explicit standards for all food producers, and make sure industry is really accountable for the food safety practices whether they are in other countries or in the United States,” stated FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. (“Imported Food Safety,” Dr. Jon Lapook and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, CBS Evening News, July 26, 2013)