6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, New FDA Rule on Food Poisoning

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(ABC 6 News) – Millions of people get sick each year from contaminated food, and finding the source of that contamination isn’t easy, but that could be changing.

Every year an estimated 48 million Americans get sick from bacteria and viruses in their food. Now the Food and Drug Administration is trying to reduce the number of illnesses with its Food Traceability Rule—which covers foods through their entire supply chain.

“This new record-keeping process is going to mean that everyone who touches the food, from the grower who grows it, to the supermarket who sells it, the restaurant that serves it, is going to have to keep track of the food in the exact same way,” says Consumer Reports’ Trisha Calvo.

That means assigning a code to potentially riskier foods–those prone to contamination — such as soft cheeses, eggs, leafy greens, nut butters, and tomatoes — so they can be tracked more efficiently.

“In some cases, this new rule may make it even easier for food to be identified as potentially harmful before it even hits the market and gets into the hands of consumers,” says Calvo.

Meat and poultry aren’t included since they’re regulated by the USDA, not the FDA. CR says the new plan isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what’s currently in place.

“Right now, record-keeping of this type is incomplete and inconsistent. So this will standardize everything and it will make it easier for people to follow the food back,” says Calvo.

The new rule is currently in place as of January 20, 2023.