FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules

Dr. Richard Besser looks at the proposed changes covering farms, processing plants.
3:00 | 01/04/13

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Transcript for FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules
And a ground-breaking announcement about food safety today. Millions of americans get food poisoning from everything from salad to peanut butter. 3,000 die every year. But today the government said it's ready to enforce sweeping ideas. And dr. Richard besser is here, he's tracked food illnesses in his career and he's goe big news. Yeah, I started my career working in food safety. Finally we're starting to see rules develop that could make a big difference. This points us to a future where people can eat their dinner without being afraid. Jensen farms cantaloupe might not have killed 33. The sunland peanut factory might not have sickened 42. Contaminated spinach might not have sent 13 to the hospital just last month. And 8-year-old nate lebron wouldn't have spent three days in the hospital because he ate a peanut butter sandwich. The stomach cramps, I was screaming loud and I was saying, why this is happening to me? Reporter: Two years waiting. And finally, rules to take the fear of bacterial contamination away from the produce aisle. From the spinach fields of california to the peanut production lines of new mexico, food safety specialists have spent two years begging for these regulations. Today's action is a big deal. It's good news for consumers. It's good news for food companies. Reporter: Instead of waiting till there's an outbreak, the new rules aim to prevent outbreaks of food-borne disease from happening in the first place. Take peanuts. To be safe, I'd want them tested as they leave the fields. I'd want them processed at temperatures high enough to kill salmonella. I'd want them tested again before they're released to stores. Those sorts of things will now be law. Two years to come up with rules to cover the riskiest produce. Food safety experts are elated. For the first time, rather than reacting to problems once they happen, fda is going to be able to prevent problems before people get sick and before food needs to be recalled. I talked to all my friends who work on food safety. There's a huge sigh of relief that farms will be required to do the right thing. Now when you need to make sure that congress funds the inspectors to look over their shorls. You thought a lot of these things were required already. Turns out they weren't. How long before the action takes effect? A final rule from the government will be a year in coming. But now the industry knows what they'll be held to, people say they'll start making changes right now. That could lead to fewer outbreaks even before the rules become final law. You were saying you have confidence that will change the history of food-borne illness in this country. That's right. Once we hold our domestic producers to this, then we can look at food coming in and hold it to the same standard. This is big for food safety. So they can enforce the standards for the food that comes in. 24 hours ago, we watched the resilient children of newtown,

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