Improved Food Safety

Overseeing imported food products—which account for one-sixth of foods consumed in the U.S.—is a huge task that requires ongoing attention for the good of the public’s health.

That is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules yesterday as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Under these rules, food importers would be responsible for verifying that the products meet national food safety standards.

This proposal shifts responsibility from federal inspectors—who can only inspect a fraction of imported foods—to the importers, who must maintain records that can show during audits that foreign suppliers met the standards for the production of the food coming into the U.S.

We mention that there must be constant oversight of food safety, because problems always arise or are discovered. A recent case involves four Mexican hot sauces of the brands El Pato, Castillo and two types of Búfalo.

This time, scientists found a high amount of lead, very similar to what testers from the same university found a few years ago in a type of Mexican candy. The FDA banned candies with a lead level higher than 0.1 parts per million; now, it should do the same with hot sauces that exceed that level.

Exposure to unhealthy imported foods causes illnesses that are preventable. That is why it is necessary to have ongoing oversight and take concrete action.