FDA Reports on Food Safety ProgressDec 2, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just issued a press release indicating that it has made significant strides in protecting the U.S. food supply. The information on the agency’s Food Protection Plan is contained in a report entitled, “The One-Year Summary of Progress under the Food Protection Plan,” which details the agency’s work toward increasing the food system safety both nationally and internationally.
The FDA’s Food Protection Plan, which was implemented last year to “protect both domestic and imported food from accidental and intentional contamination,” also outlines the agency’s “strategies for prevention, intervention, and response” and “is designed to address food safety and … defense for … domestic and imported products” covering “the full lifecycle of food, by encouraging the building of safety into every step of the food supply chain,” says the FDA. "Science and 21st century technologies help drive the FDA's efforts to transform our food safety efforts from the Food Protection Plan into a reality," said Commissioner of Food and Drugs Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. in the release. Eschenback, M.D. added that, "Every day, the FDA is working with foreign countries, state and local governments; regulated industry; and consumer groups to ensure the safety of the food supply. We also continue to work with members of Congress to achieve new authorities requested in the Food Protection Plan."
The FDA’s release detailed a three-pronged status of an array of of its accomplishments on the Food Protection Plan. The status encompassed Prevention, Intervention, and Response and went over a variety of efforts and steps which the agency has taken. For instance, under Prevention, the FDA discussed its establishment of five overseas offices and staffing measures which have been completed, to date; collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) delegation to China, in which the ongoing melamine scandal was discussed; implementation of the CARVER self-assessment tool for industry; global meetings; hiring an International Notification Coordinator; implementing the irradiation of certain produce as wells as implementing melamine and cyanuric acid detection methods, specifically in feed; and using genetic analysis in salmonella detection in seafood products.
The release also discussed some steps the agency took once a crisis was detected or as crisis prevention, such as the inspection of 5,930 high-risk domestic food establishments; inspection of some high-risk companies in a couple of key areas during this year’s Democratic and Republican National Conventions; inspection and a follow-up recall involving a canning facility and botulism spores found there; issuance of a Draft Guidance document; and implementation of improved detection methods, reporting coverage, and policies.
The agency also outlined some of its responses, such as working with industry and the public to identify best practices for tracing fresh produce throughout the supply chain; enhanced food borne illness coordination efforts; increases in key staff, responses to the ongoing melamine scandal and this summer’s salmonella Saintpaul outbreak; and formation of a multi-state Rapid Response Team.