"Proposed new rules aimed at improving the safety of imported food were bottled up so long that some advocates were worried that the Obama administration had lost the political will to put them into effect.
Now that a lawsuit finally pried them loose, the administration should keep them moving along toward final approval.
At least eight of 19 multistate outbreaks of foodborne illness since January 2011 have been linked to imported foods, according to food safety experts at Pew Charitable Trusts.
And Friday, government food safety officials said the outbreak of illness caused by the cyclospora parasite was linked to salad mix from a Mexican farm that was served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa.
The amount of imported food — especially fruits and vegetables — consumed by Americans has been rising steadily.
Currently about 15 percent of the food eaten in the United States comes from outside its borders. About 20 percent of the fresh vegetables and 50 percent of the fresh fruit purchased by Americans came from outside the country.
Less than 2 percent of that food was inspected by the Food and Drug Administration."