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Imported Food Safety

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More than 150 countries export food to the U.S. and only 2% of that food is inspected at our ports and borders.

Under the new FDA proposal, importers would have to verify that their suppliers are meeting the same food safety standards that are required in the U.S. The new measures would also improve food safety audits abroad.

"All this is geared toward making sure the food supply is as safe as possible," says FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

Food-related illnesses kill about 3,000 people every year in the U.S. and hospitalize about 130,000 others.

Federal health officials are currently investigating a mysterious stomach bug that has sickened more than 275 people in seven states, including New Jersey. That bug has been linked to imported fresh produce in past outbreaks.

"We need a food safety system that focuses on prevention, and identifying the points of vulnerability wherever they are in the food chain and in the manufacturing process," says Dr. Hamburg.

Americans are on a steady diet of produce from other countries. Estimates show half of our fruits and 20% of our vegetables are imported.

Consumers like Rose Gourhan are glad the FDA is getting involved.

"We need to look at the food and where it's coming from and what's on it because it's going into our bodies."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association says the proposed rules help ensure food safety and it looks forward to working with the FDA.

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