FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing sweeping changes to food safety rules, requiring farmers and food companies to be more vigilant to prevent food borne pathogen outbreaks.

POSTED: 04:00 AM PST Jan 04, 2013    UPDATED: 04:05 AM PST Jan 29, 2013 

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing sweeping changes to food safety rules, requiring farmers and food companies to be more vigilant to prevent food borne pathogen outbreaks. The FDA's safety rules are aimed at reducing the estimated 3,000 deaths a year from the food illnesses. The new rules would require farmers to take new precautions against food contamination. They include making sure workers hands are washed, irrigation water is clean and that animals stay out of fields. "I think it's a great idea. I think that every farm your pickers should definitely have sanitized conditions and I think it should be the law. Especially with crops that grow in the ground, they can be more susceptible to E-coli or other bacteria," said James Newcom at the farmers market in Montecito. Newcom works for Regier Family Farms out of Dinuba, California and told KEY News his employers already take some of those steps. The new rules won't affect all farmers, only those who grow fruits and vegetables that pose the greatest risks, like berries, melons, leafy greens and other foods that are eaten raw. "It's a good thing but I'm not worried about that at all because whatever we buy even if it's tangerines we're going to wash it anyway. So to me as a consumer, it makes absolutely no difference," said David Hessler, as he shopped on Coast Village Road. But not everyone is a thorough. "I think I'm a little more lax. I do it sometimes," said Laurie Schaefer. The proposals could make it mandatory to add bathrooms for workers on farms with signs similar to those in restaurants to remind employees to wash their hands before returning to work. "I think it's definitely a good idea to try to enforce some sort of cleanliness amongst the workers," said Christina Moore of Roots Farm in Los Olivos. Food manufacturers will also be effected and will have to submit food safety plans to the government to show they are keeping their operations clean. The proposed regulations won't take effect until after a 120-day comment period. Farms won't start to be regulated until they have ample time to comply. For large farms, that could be two years.