Included in the other provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is increased authority over food imports.

“The FDA will continue to conduct inspections at the port and will have more authority to conduct inspections overseas for companies that want to export to the U.S.,” says Richard Frank, a senior principal attorney at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz.

That’s no small undertaking. The overseas inspection authority means the U.S. will have to work out treaty agreements with foreign countries. But it’s an increasingly important point of focus for food inspectors. Imported food now accounts for 15 percent of the country’s food supply, and a May 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office found that of 189,000 registered foreign sites where food is made for sale in the U.S., just 153 were inspected in 2008. The new law requires the FDA to inspect at least 600 foreign facilities in the year after it takes effect.