43 states are receiving funds to better monitor farming practices under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
We take for granted the produce we pick out at the grocery store will be safe to eat, but the fact of the matter is it takes a lot of work—and money—to make your favorite fruits and vegetables fit for consumption. So when the Food & Drug Administration announced Wednesday it would award 43 states $30.9 million to implement new food safety regulations, it was good news for everyone—but especially consumers.
Let's rewind for a second: in 2015, the FDA added a produce safety rule to the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill aimed at reducing contamination by preventing it. (A novel idea, we know.) The produce safety rule took the act a step farther by establishing "science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption."
The country's largest producers must now begin to comply with the legislation; its regulations—at least some of them, anyway—will be enforced as of January 2018.
Last year, the FDA gave 42 states $21.8 million to help them get started. But this newest award "represents the largest allocation of funds to date, made available by the FDA to help state agencies support FSMA produce safety rule implementation and develop state-based produce safety programs," according to a press release.
What will the money pay for? According to the release, "[it] will ensure that [states] have the resources to formulate a multi-year plan to implement a produce safety system and develop and provide education, outreach, and technical assistance."
The produce safety rule is meant to ensure that water used in farming has no trace of E. Coli, regulate how often raw manure can be added to fields with crops, and testing sprouts for any microbial pathogens that could lead to food borne illness. You can read the more about the rule—and its guidelines and regulations—on this site.
As the produce safety rule is enforced, it could mean big changes for consumers. The FDA says more than 3,000 Americans die each year from food borne illnesses, not counting the thousands who are hospitalized or sickened after eating contaminated food. "Yet most of these illnesses and deaths are preventable," the FDA says.