U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor told the Global Food Safety Conference that the U.S food safety statute, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (P.L. 111-353), "establishes a new paradigm for FDA's oversight of imported food."

The new statute defines FDA's core mandate to set risk-based preventative controls for all foods overseen by the agency regardless of type or domestic or foreign production.  FDA also has new tools to ensure higher rates for compliance with food safety standards -- including an inspection frequency mandate, expanded records access, and administrative enforcement powers.

"The key... is that the new law explicitly places primary responsibility for food safety -- for prevention -- on food producers and processors," Taylor said.  Importers will, for the first time, "have a clearly defined responsibility and accountability for the safety of the food they bring into our country."

The United States imports about 15 percent of its total food supply.

Accountability provisions require importers to implement a foreign supplier verification program.  FDA will build capacity for food safety in other countries that export food to the United States, including establishing an accreditation system for third-party auditors of foreign food facilities.