Most food scares in the U.S. are caused by negligence or accidents, not someone intentionally poisoning a large amount of food. The latter scenario might seem more like the scheme of a comic book villain, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week issued a proposed rule to curb the possibility of such a scenario from happening.
The new rule would require food facilities in the U.S. to help prevent their foods from being intentionally contaminated. The rule requires food facilities that the FDA sees as most vulnerable to attack to write up a “food defense plan” that points out possible “vulnerabilities” in its food production. Those same facilities will then have to take action to monitor and defend these vulnerabilities. Training employees and keeping records will be part of the oversight required of food businesses.
“The goal is to protect the food supply from those who may attempt to cause large-scale public health harm,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the FDA. “Such events, while unlikely to occur, must be taken seriously because they have the potential to cause serious public health and economic consequences. The FDA’s goal is to devise an approach that effectively protects the food supply in a practical, cost effective manner.”
Though the possibility of terrorists poisoning the U.S. food supply is an unsettling one (especially with Christmas just days away) the FDA in its statement made it clear that the agency is unaware of such a thing ever happening. The proposed rule is simply a precaution to prevent such a scenario from ever happening in the first place.