The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday announced a proposed rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act aimed at strengthening the safety of food for animals, including pet food and animal feed.
The rule, proposed to help ensure the safety of animal feed, as well as help prevent foodborne illness in humans and animals, is part of the effort mandated by Congress to modernize the food safety system and focuses on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after they occur.
Specifically, the proposed rule would require makers of animal feed and pet food to be sold in the U.S.to develop a formal plan and put into place procedures to prevent foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise.
In addition, the proposed rule would also require animal food facilities to, for the first time, follow proposed current good manufacturing practices that address areas such as sanitation.
"The FDA continues to take steps to meet the challenge of ensuring a safe food supply," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., in a press statement.
"Today's announcement addresses a critical part of the food system, and we will continue to work with our national and international industry, consumer and government partners as we work to prevent foodborne illness," she added.
The proposed rule would also help ensure the safety of food for animals and prevent the transmission of agents in food for animals that could cause foodborne illness in both animals and people. People can get sick by handling contaminated food, such as pet food, FDA said.
"This proposed rule on animal food complements proposed rules published in January 2013 for produce safety and facilities that manufacture food for humans to set modern, prevention-based standards for food safety," said Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael R. Taylor.
The proposed rule works in concert with standards proposed in July 2013 for imported foods and the accreditation of third party auditors for foreign food facilities, the FDA added. The rule also falls in line with the five major elements of the FSMA – preventive controls, inspection and compliance, imported food safety, response, and enhanced partnerships.
The FSMA was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, and was heralded as the first major reform to U.S. food systems in 70 years.
The proposed rule for preventive controls for food for animals will publish in the Federal Register on October 29, 2013. Comments on this proposed rule are due by 120 days from the publication date.