FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2011, file photo, cantaloupes rot in the afternoon heat on a field on the Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo. Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's cantaloupe-packing facility were probably to blame for the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration said. President Barack Obama's proposed budget would eliminate the nation's only program that regularly tests fruits and vegetables for deadly pathogens, leaving public health officials without a crucial tool used to investigate deadly foodborne illness outbreaks. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration is proposing the most sweeping food safety rules in decades, requiring farmers and food companies to be more vigilant in the wake of deadly outbreaks in peanuts, cantaloupe and leafy greens.
The long-overdue rules are aimed at reducing the estimated 3,000 deaths a year from foodborne illness. Just since this summer, listeria in cheese and salmonella in peanut butter, mangoes and cantaloupe are linked to more than 400 illnesses and as many as seven deaths.
The rules proposed by the FDA Friday will require farmers to take precautions against contamination on the farm -- making sure workers' hands are washed, irrigation water is clean, and animals stay out of fields, for example. Food manufacturers will also have to submit food safety plans to the government.