The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, consisting of four core elements: Tech-enabled Traceability, Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response, New Business Models and Retail Modernization, and Food Safety Culture. The rollout of the initiative was delayed from March as the federal agency turned instead to addressing the public health emergency posed by the coronavirus.
“In the months that have followed, it has become even clearer — from our experiences with the pandemic and the lessons we have been learning as part of the FDA’s response to it — just how essential the actions outlined in this blueprint are and, if anything, that they are more important now, than ever,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn in his introductory comments.
Developed by FDA experts, including Frank Yiannas, the agency’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response, and Susan Mayne, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and incorporating input from external stakeholders in industry, and state partners, the blueprint “outlines a path forward that builds on the work the FDA has already done through implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA),” explained Hahn, noting “the enormous opportunities we have to use cutting-edge science and technology in support of our ability to help ensure the safety of the American public.”
The blueprint lays out the approach that the agency will take over the next decade to bring about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety. It provides achievable goals to enhance traceability, improve predictive analytics, respond more rapidly to outbreaks, address new business models, reduce contamination of food, and foster the development of stronger food safety cultures, with government, industry and public health advocates acting as partners in this endeavor.
“I want to note that while the New Era has a strong emphasis in the application of new technology, it’s not just about technology,” observed Hahn. “It’s about using that technology to build and put in place more effective approaches and processes.”
The food industry has expressed its support for the initiative.
“Within the food industry, we continue to witness how rapidly business models are changing; any new frameworks should be broad in nature and be adaptable with evolving business practices," noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI – The Food Industry Association, based in Arlington, Va. "It’s critical that this new plan focuses on outcomes; leverages existing tools; increases communications with and among stakeholders; accounts for our variable resources and abilities; and provides uniformity that amplifies success."
Sarasin added that FMI would work with FDA on the implementation of the plan.