The Food and Drug Administration now has more power to detain food it believes is adulterated or misbranded, but one leading fresh produce safety expert believes the agency should never have to use it.

The FDA released the “administrative detention of food” regulation Feb. 4. The agency did not change the original version of the rule released in May 2011.

The new regulation, effective immediately, was mandated through the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011. Before it was passed, FDA was able to detain a food only when it had credible evidence it threatened serious “adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.”

Now the FDA can also detain adulterated or misbraded food, according to a news release.

The agency can now keep products for up to 30 days while it decides whether to take further enforcement action, such as seizure.

“It is another tool in FDA’s toolbox to ensure enforcement for operations that are not complying with the regulations,” said David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.. “We don’t expect FDA to ever need to use this with United Fresh members because the produce industry has more of a stake in protecting public health than FDA does.”