07/26/2013 09:30 EDT | Updated 09/25/2013 05:12 EDT

FDA proposes rules to make imported foods safer after outbreaks in produce, cheese

WASHINGTON - The United States Food and Drug Administration is proposing new steps to ensure that fresh produce, cheese and other foods imported into the U.S. are safe.

The proposed rules are required by a sweeping food safety law passed by Congress 2 1/2 years ago. They're meant to establish better checks on what has long been a scattershot effort at guarding against unsafe food imported from more than 150 countries.

FDA is proposing the new guidelines on Friday. They would require U.S. food importers to verify that the foreign companies they import from have the same levels of food safety required in this country.

About 15 per cent of the food Americans eat is imported, including about 50 per cent of fruits and 20 per cent of vegetables.