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New FDA Rules Target Foodborne Illnesses for People, Pet Food Makers

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized two new rules designed to prevent foodborne illnesses. They are the first of seven rules the agency plans to finalize in 2015 and 2016 as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011.

Under the rule changes announced Sept. 10, foreign and domestic food facilities required to register with the FDA will have to develop and implement written food safety plans that identify potential food safety hazards. Facilities will also have to detail how they prevent and minimize those hazards.

Plans will also detail how facilities handle and process their food, explain how food is kept at safe temperatures, and describe how facilities are cleaned. The FDA says the agency will also be able to assess these plans and their outcomes to improve food safety. These rules have not changed since 1986, the agency says.

The changes will also apply to pet food manufacturers.

Each year, one in six Americans becomes sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year. California distributor Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce recalled cucumbers linked to a salmonella outbreak that killed 99-year-old San Diego woman and sickened at least 285 others. Ice cream maker Blue Bell Creamery recently began stocking shelves again after a listeria outbreak linked to its ice cream killed three in Kansas and sickened 10 others.

Future rules including ones focused on produce and imported foods will go into effect later this fall or next year.

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