Food and Drug Administration Sets New Rules for Produce

The Food and Drug Administration released new rules Friday aimed at making sure that fresh produce and imported foods are free of dangerous germs and other contaminants, NBC News reported. 

The new rules require importers and producers to make sure the food is clean, and provide for outside auditors to check into procedures at foreign food suppliers. Currently, the FDA waits until there are outbreaks and then responds to them — often far too late to save people from eating food that makes them sick.

"For the first time these rules are going to require producers, growers and importers to ensure that the food they produce or import has minimal contamination," said Sandra Eskin, who directs food safety research at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Contaminated food is an extremely common problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that germs in food make 48 million Americans sick every year — that's one out of six people. About 128,000 are made sick enough to be hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

Most recently, an outbreak of E. coli traced to Chipotle outlets in Washington and Oregon made at least 42 people sick. Health officials haven't been able to find the source.

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