What took you so long, FDA?
New food safety standards have been years in the making, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally released new regulations last week.
It hardly seems revolutionary to require farm workers who handle fruits and vegetables to wash their hands. Or to prohibit farm animals from going into fields where produce is grown. Or require processing equipment is clean.
Yet food safety requirements in this country were so far behind the times, it actually is a big change. The Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by Congress in 2010, was the first overhaul of the rules in more than 70 years.
To be sure, the new regulations won’t pose huge challenges for the best actors in food production — they’ve already adopted many of these practices of their own volition. But not all have. In recent years, the nation has grappled with a litany of tainted foods that have caused serious illness and death. Spinach, peanut butter, eggs and cantaloupe have all been implicated.
Unfortunately, it took two years for the Obama administration to write and release updated rules. And producers will have years to fully comply, particularly when it comes to small producers and water quality.
Nevertheless, it’s heartening to see a good set of standards, appropriately vetted, finally coming to fruition.