The Food and Drug Administration published new rules on Wednesday designed to help the agency keep contaminated food out of the United States.
Beginning on July 3, FDA will be able to seize food that agents believe could have been processed in unsanitary or unsafe conditions and hold it for up to 30 days. Previously, the agency could only hold food products if there was specific evidence it was adulterated and presented a serious threat to life.
“This authority strengthens significantly the FDA’s ability to keep potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers,” said Mike Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods. “It is a prime example of how the new food safety law allows FDA to build prevention into our food safety system.”
The agency will also begin requiring any companies exporting food to the United States to report if the food product has been refused entry into other countries. Taylor said these regulations are just the beginning of a series of rules that will come out of the agency to help build a new food-safety system as prescribed by Congress.
President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act in January, giving the FDA greater authority to regulate the U.S. food supply. The law also gave the FDA the power to issue mandatory recalls for companies that did not voluntarily recall contaminated products.
The FDA had come under increasing pressure in recent years to do more to protect the food supply, and has asked for the power, staff, and funds to do so. Among many recent recalls, stores pulled a half-billion eggs because of a salmonella outbreak.