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FSMA Overview

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The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of the food safety laws in over 70 years. The FSMA was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to protect public health by focusing on prevention of, rather than reaction to, food safety issues. FSMA is administered through the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Burden of Foodborne Illness

While it is true that the United States does have a very safe food supply, the burden of foodborne illness is still a major problem. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 (48 million) Americans are affected by foodborne illness each year. Along with the 48 million illnesses there are 125,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually. The goal of FSMA is to reduce the public health burden by preventing foodborne illness outbreaks.

Almost 20% of the food consumed in the United States is imported. To address this growing trend, FSMA has provisions to ensure imported food is produced under food safety standards that are equivalent to those in the United States.

Components of FSMA

FSMA is composed of 7 individual rules that address different aspects of food safety. The FDA has published factsheets that serve as a brief overview of each rule.