Food and Drug Administration to Take Action on Food Safety in Restaurants and Stores

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a series of initiatives in late September that it hopes will further ensure the safety of the food supply. The proposed measures, known as the Retail Food Safety Action Plan, would apply to food service establishments such as stores, restaurants, and schools. The Plan will focus on food safety rules at the state and local levels. It establishes a set of “model rules” to help managers in food service establishments handle food safety procedures, and standards for training personnel on food safety issues. The Plan follows a series of recent stories in the news about food contamination such as the recent cantaloupe recall.

The FDA is cooperating with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to promote best safety practices at the local level. It hopes to get local governments to implement its Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program, a series of standards developed by the FDA to encourage uniform food safety protocols nationwide.

The Plan also includes amendments to the 2009 Food Code, the most recent set of standards put out by the FDA. The Food Code is typically revised every few years. The proposed amendments include:
– Food establishments should have a plan for responding and cleaning up if an employee is phyiscally ill near where food is served, prepared, or stored.
– Food establishments should have clear standards about bare-handed contact with prepared food by employees.

– They should have consistent standards for how to display meat and poultry.

The FDA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is responsible for promoting public health by supervising and regulating food products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, and other products commonly used by the public. It also enforces various laws related to public health. It regulates safety for most food products, although many meat products fall under the Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction. FDA review and approval is a critical step towards getting a product to market in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Food safety and quality control are vital tasks in promoting public health and preventing certain diseases. Food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli can result from poor food quality or lack of standards. Injuries can be severe, ranging from sickness and lost time at work to serious hospitalization or death.

Consumers often lack the knowledge or expertise to determine risks of food-borne illness, so the responsibility lies with the food service establishment. Businesses that do not follow safety standards may be liable for injuries caused by food-borne illnesses. FDA standards and regulations can provide a guide to food establishments for safeguarding their food supply and preventing injury to consumers, and they can help people injured due to poor food safety in assessing liability for their damages.

The Washington DC injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen help people who have suffered injuries by defective or dangerous products, including contaminated food. Contact the firm today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Web Resources:

FDA Sets Action Plan for Retail Food Safety Initiative, Announces New Food Code Supplement and Cooperative Agreement with NACCHO, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, September 29, 2011
Retail Food Safety Initiative, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, April 2009
Food Code 2009, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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