OIRA Delays Review of Food Safety Rules as Import-Related Outbreaks Persist

seafoodApproximately 15% of consumed food in America is imported. Ninety-one percent of seafood, 61% honey, and 60% of fruits are imported by America. The majority of the imports originate from developing nations that do not have safety and health regulations that are effective. Additionally, some food products are imported from China, which has had several incidences of food safety issues. Developing countries are also associated with unsanitary practices, which further contaminate food and agricultural products that America imports. For example, Vietnamese farmers have been reported to export shrimp in ice made from water infested by bacteria, Mexican laborers gather grapes, tomatoes and onions for export using dirty hands. The FDA proposed and drafted three major rules, that if implemented would greatly improve the safety of imported food. Unfortunately, the Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has held these rules back despite the fact that they are past statutory deadline.

The first rule of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) has been held by OIRA for a period of one year, seven months. This first rule, if implemented, importers will hold the responsibility of making sure that there are adequate measures directed to foreigners to curb contamination and adulteration. The second rule will require third parties to be accredited to carry out audits for food safety. OIRA has held this rule, which was due by 2012 July, for a period of seven months. Under this rule, the accreditation bodies will be recognized by FDA and the third parties accredited will include individuals, private firms, and foreign governments. The final rule is Preventive Controls for Animal Food, a rule that has been held by OIRA for one and a half years. Under the rule, adulteration and contamination will be prevented in facilities producing animal ingredients or food.