President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed the most sweeping overhaul of America's food safety system since 1938.
The legislation gives the federal Food and Drug Administration the authority to impose new rules to prevent contamination and allows the agency to order, rather than simply suggest, the recall of tainted foods. It also authorizes the creation of a food tracking system to quickly pinpoint the source of outbreaks.
The legislation requires producers to assess ways in which their products could be contaminated and to take steps to prevent such problems. It also requires importers to verify the safety of all foods they bring into the country.
The result will be a fundamental shift in the FDA's approach to food safety from reacting to foodborne illness outbreaks to preventing contamination in the first place, agency Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.
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