Modernization of Food Safety

Jan 6, 2012

With funding in hand, U.S. food safety regulations will see the biggest changes in almost 70 years in 2012. 

The federal food safety overhaul  -- signed into law by President Barack Obama one year ago this week - lingered in Congress for months because of funding battles. Now, Congress has appropriated $40 million to make the new rules work. The Food and Drug Administration, for the first time in its history, will have the authority to declare mandatory food recalls.

"Food safety at FDA since 1939 has been on a reactionary basis," said David Plunkett, a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "A crisis would happen, people would be getting sick, then FDA would step in and try to figure out what happened and take action if it was appropriate to against who ever caused the problem. ”

Plunkett said now the public has a chance to weigh on proposed rules. If the law goes as planned, it should mean fewer recalls and a safer food supply.

Find out more about the Food Safety Modernization Act here.

Jessica Naudziunas reports for Harvest Public Media, an agriculture-reporting project involving six NPR member stations in the Midwest. For more stories about farm and food, check out