Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn has introduced the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint, a new approach to food safety that leverages technology and other tools to create a safer and more digital, traceable food system. The agency’s announcement states, “Smarter food safety is about more than just technology. It’s also about simpler, more effective and modern approaches and processes. It's about leadership, creativity and culture. Our ultimate goal is to bend the curve of foodborne illness in this country by reducing the number of illnesses.”
In response, FMI–The Food Industry Association President and CEO Leslie Sarasin said, “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. 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.”
She continues with gratitude that the FDA designed a plan that creates a “more digital, traceable and safer food system.”
Other food associations also weighed in on the new blueprint.
“We are appreciative of FDA’s pandemic response and commend FDA for proactively identifying ways to use new and emerging technologies to continue to provide Americans with the safest possible food supply,” said American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) President and CEO Alison Bodor. “The agency’s new plan builds on the many improvements seen through the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the frozen food industry is committed to continuing this comprehensive, risk-based approach to food safety. We look forward to continuing to work with FDA in its efforts to modernize food safety oversight.”
AFFI also addressed three areas outlined in the blueprint where it hoped to offer improvements:
- Tech-Enabled Traceability and Foodborne Outbreak Response: There are significant benefits to enhancing agency and industry communications surrounding recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks, and any new traceability standards should be risk-based and built on existing requirements.
- Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention: Efforts to identify more effective tools and approaches to preventing foodborne illness outbreaks should include smarter tools for prevention, such aqs strengthening procedures for root cause analysis, which have the greatest potential for achieving public health benefits.
- Food Safety Culture: A focus on fostering a culture of food safety and recognizing this must include not just regulators and industry, but consumers as well. The new blueprint can build upon FSMA’s progress in achieving public health goals and meeting consumer expectations.