Before you take your seat at the family table this Thanksgiving to stuff yourself full of food, take a moment to be thankful for the Food Safety Modernization Act. In response to many food borne outbreaks, the 111th Congress passed the act at the end of 2010 and it was signed by President Obama in January 2011. When Mr. Obama put his John Hancock on the law, he put in place the first major update of America’s food safety laws since before World War II. Obviously, Thanksgiving is mostly about feasting with friends and family, so you certainly want to make sure the food you are serving is safe. Here are just a few reasons why you should be thankful for the Food Safety Modernization Act.
1. The FDA has more authority to prevent contamination of the food supply. Before the act, the FDA focused more on responding to outbreaks of food borne illnesses. But now and into the future, you can be more confident that what you and your kids are eating is safe.
2. The FDA is now required to inspect food production facilities more often than they have in the past. Higher risk processing facilities will be inspected at least once every three years or more at the discretion of the FDA. In other words, these facilities need to be on their toes.
3. If these facilities are not on their toes, the FDA now has the power to shut them down if it believes there is a reasonable probability that food from the facility could cause harm to humans or animals.
4. The FDA can also detain food products it believes are contaminated. That means if they suspect that some bags of potatoes are bad, they’ll halt it from going to stores, meaning you won’t have to worry about the mashed potatoes you’re eating on turkey day.
5. The FDA now has the power to force a recall even if a food production facility refuses to do so. Sometimes these facilities don’t issue recalls fast enough, which causes more people to become exposed to food borne illnesses. But with the FDA speeding things up, recalls will be issued more immediately when a food health issue arises.
6. The FDA and food production facilities must gather data on the most common food contaminants and develop plans to prevent these from getting into food. Basically, you won’t have to worry so much about the possibility of E-coli and pesticides being in your veggies on Thanksgiving Day.
7. Food importers can be dangerous at times. Especially food imported from China. But with the new regulations in place, importers will have to be inspected by a third party auditor in order to get permission to bring the food to the United States.
8. The new regulations require production facilities to have preventative plans in place to keep food from being contaminated and to have response plans in place as well. The FDA will also require facilities to give them copies of those plans and will grade the facilities based on a high set of standards.
9. An important aspect of this law allows small farmers and natural produce farms to be exempt from these regulations. So have no fear, if it’s all natural food you’re after for Thanksgiving, you’ll have no problem getting it.
You can expect and be confident that the food you eat this Thanksgiving and every Thanksgiving hereafter, will be safe for consumption. That means no hospital visits, no sick kids, and a happy feast for everyone.