President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law on January 4, 2011. Congress passed the FSMA partly in response to an increasing number of widespread and highly publicized food-contamination outbreaks and recalls over the past few years. Much of the media publicity focused on the FSMA's grant of power to FDA to initiate mandatory recalls. FSMA's primary focus, however, is preventive controls aimed at avoiding food-contamination outbreaks and the recalls that often follow.
One of FSMA's major requirements is for FDA to issue regulations (the Food Safety Regulations) establishing science-based minimum standards for hazard analysis and preventative controls in food facilities. While FDA is hopeful that the regulations will significantly reduce the number of illnesses, injuries, and deaths caused by contaminated food, it is not realistic to expect that the problem of foodborne illness will disappear. The food industry will continue to face product-liability lawsuits for personal injury and wrongful death.