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U.S. releases groundbreaking safety rules for imported food, produce farms

Staff writer |
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released what it called groundbreaking safety standards for imported food and produce farms as part of its efforts to prevent foodborne illness.

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Under a rule called the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs, importers are now required to be accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.

The FDA cited an official estimate that imported food accounted for about 19 percent of the U.S. food supply, including about 52 percent of the fresh fruits and 22 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed by Americans.

"The final rule ensures that importers conduct verification activities (such as audits of a supplier's facility, sampling and testing of food, or a review of the supplier's relevant food safety records) based on risks linked to the imported food and the performance of the foreign supplier," it said in a statement.

Another FDA rule known as the Accredited Third-Party Certification established a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies, also called auditors, to conduct food safety audits of foreign food facilities.

The FDA also finalized a rule on how produce should be grown, harvested, packed and held and imported. The rule does not apply to produce that is used for personal or on-farm consumption and farms that have sold less than $25,000 in produce during the previous three years.

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