Report: FDA Needs More Efficient Approach To Food Safety

FDA’s abilities to discover potential threats to food safety and prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness are hampered by impediments to efficient use of its limited resources, says a new report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council.

To more proactively tackle food safety problems, FDA should implement a risk-based approach in which data and expertise are marshaled to pinpoint where along the production, distribution, and handling chains there is the greatest potential for contamination and other problems, the report says. The agency would then be able to direct appropriate amounts of its resources and attention to those high-risk areas and increase the chances of catching problems before they turn into widespread outbreaks, said the committee that wrote the report.

The report offers FDA a blueprint for developing a risk-based model. It also outlines several organizational steps the agency should take to improve the efficiency of its many food safety activities, such as increasing coordination with state and other federal agencies that share responsibility for protecting the nation’s food supply. In addition, the report says Congress should consider amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to explicitly provide the authority FDA needs to fulfill its food safety mission.

“As recent illnesses traced to produce underscore, foodborne diseases cause significant suffering, so it’s imperative that our food safety system functions effectively at all levels,” said committee chair Robert Wallace, professor, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City. “FDA uses some risk assessment and management tactics, but the agency’s approach is too often reactive and lacks a systematic focus on prevention. Our report’s recommendations aim to help FDA achieve a comprehensive vision for proactively protecting against threats to the nation’s food supply.”

FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of approximately 80% of the nation’s food supply, including seafood, dairy products, and fruits, and vegetables. Although it is not the sole organization overseeing food safety — USDA handles meat, poultry, and egg products, and state and local agencies share in conducting food production facility inspections, surveillance, and investigations of outbreaks — recent outbreaks of foodborne illness led to a congressional request for a review of gaps in FDA’s food safety system.

The agency has been criticized for not adequately monitoring and inspecting food suppliers and distributors and for not taking a proactive approach to food safety overall. However, given that FDA is responsible for more than 150,000 food facilities, more than 1 million restaurants and other retail food establishments, and more than 2 million farms, as well as millions of tons of imports, it lacks the resources to sufficiently monitor the entire food supply, the committee noted.

A risk-based approach would give FDA’s food safety officials the strategic vision needed to evaluate and plan for food safety concerns rather than tackling problems on a case-by-case basis, the report says. Without good information, agency officials cannot identify where its resources are needed most or determine which policy interventions are most effective. The agency should identify its data needs and review its policies for sharing data with other agencies and organizations.

The federal government should establish a centralized food safety data center outside of the regulatory agencies to collect information and conduct rapid, sophisticated assessments of food safety risks and appropriate policy interventions. This center would go a long way toward developing much-needed capacity and would reduce interagency competition for resources, the committee said. It could also serve as an intermediate step toward consolidating food safety activities within a single agency, which many individuals and organizations have called for.

To enhance its efficiency, FDA should explore alternative approaches to regulating food safety, such as delegating food facility inspections to the states, the report says. FDA should establish national standards for the intensity and frequency of these facility reviews and help states and local municipalities bring their safety programs up to those standards. Once all programs are standardized, FDA should train and certify state inspectors with the goal of turning over the majority of inspections to them under the agency’s supervision. This change would build on current practices in which roughly 60% of inspections are already conducted by state inspectors under contract with FDA. This integration and leveraging of resources would increase the quality of inspections and eliminate duplication of effort, the committee said.

Despite the dramatic developments in food production and distribution that have occurred over the years, the main statutory provisions under which FDA carries out its food safety responsibilities remain largely unchanged. Although various provisions give the agency broad discretion and flexibility through which it has been able to control potential problems, there are instances in which FDA lacks specific authority, which can make its actions vulnerable to court challenge. Congress should examine how the legislation could be revised to detail FDA’s authorities in facility registration, preventive controls, risk-based inspection, mandatory recall, reporting of adulteration, and banning of food imports if the public’s health is at risk, among other areas.

The report was requested by Congress and sponsored by USDA. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.

Copies of Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration are available from the National Academies Press by calling 202-334-3313 or 800-624-6242 or by going to www.nap.edu.

Source: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council news release

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Scarlet Crush™
Our new Honeycrisp/Pink Lady® cross is sweet with citrusy notes, plus all that famous Honeycrisp snap and juiciness. Up to to 3” pink/rosy-red fruit is uniform, conical and very attractive. A fine cooking and fresh-eating apple. Keeps up to 6 months. Ripens as early as late September. USPPAF. Best pollinators: Starkspur® Red Rome Beauty, Stark® Jon-A-Red® Jonathan or any Golden Delicious. Zones: 3-6.
Fruits
December 8, 2016
Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co. 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
For more information on these varieties, contact Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards. Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards P.O. Box 398 Read More
Past industry efforts to discover Paradox hybrid seedlings (Juglans hindsii x J. regia) with superior traits have led to advanced selections of Paradox clones, each with unique characteristics. The University of California selection, RX 1, is a top-choice for Sacramento Valley walnut orchardists and others looking for resistance to Phytopthora and good survivability. RX 1 is a cross of Juglans microcarpa x J. regia. It is showing to be one of the most adaptable walnut rootstocks, producing a large tree with the highest yields in replicated trials. USPP#20,649 P3
Fruits
December 7, 2016
Sierra Gold Nursery 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
Sierra Gold Nurseries in Yuba City, CA, offers two walnut rootstocks, a salt-tolerant pistachio rootstock, and more. Read More
Action shot of an automated strawberry picker from Harvest CROO
Equipment
December 6, 2016
USDA Announces $3 Million For Robotic Agriculture Research
More evidence being found about how people can benefit from automation in the field. Read More
billevans
Apple Grower of the Year
December 6, 2016
2014 Apple Grower Of The Year Bill Evans Dies
Legendary apple grower Bill Evans, who along with his wife, Jeannette, farmed more apple acreage than any grower in the Read More
weedy watermelon field
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
New Fact Sheet Analyzes Weed Seeds And Their Longevity
Topics covered include how weed seeds travel, when they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated. Read More
Field trials are one component being used to evaluate water and nitrogen use efficiency in lettuce.  A wide array of germplasm is being screened including cultivars of leaf, romaine, iceberg and butter types, mapping populations and non-domesticated primitive types and wild lettuce species.   Photo credit: David Still
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Scientists Aim To Improve Nitrogen, Water Use Efficiency In Lettuce
Genetic research intends to develop varieties with enhanced nutrient uptake. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Report: Florida Cannabis Business To Approach $2 Billion By 2020
Lofty projections include a compound annual growth rate of 140%. Read More
Growers participate in a real-time industry survey session at the 2016 Florida Citrus Show
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Florida Citrus Community Tasked To Unify For Stronger Future
A group effort is necessary to forge ahead. Read More
field shot the Produce Peddler Colorado
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Orondis Opti Fungicide Receives Registration In Premix Formulation
The product provides control of Oomycete diseases in vegetables and other specialty crops. Read More
BlackPearl® is the best early season cherry, ripening 10 days before Bing and around Chelan. It has exceptional flavor and is extremely firm and crunchy. BlackPearl® is medium size with 20% sugar and keeps better that most other cherries. The tree is hardy and canker resistant. Early season bloom, S4 unknown.
Fruits
December 6, 2016
Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
For more information on these varieties, contact Fowler Nurseries, Inc. Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 525 Fowler Rd. Newcastle, CA 9565827 Phone: Read More
The Latest
Fruits
December 8, 2016
Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co.…
For more information on these varieties, contact Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards. Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards P.O. Box 398 Read More
Fruits
December 7, 2016
Sierra Gold Nursery 2017 Variety Showcas…
Sierra Gold Nurseries in Yuba City, CA, offers two walnut rootstocks, a salt-tolerant pistachio rootstock, and more. Read More
Equipment
December 6, 2016
USDA Announces $3 Million For Robotic Ag…
More evidence being found about how people can benefit from automation in the field. Read More
Apple Grower of the Year
December 6, 2016
2014 Apple Grower Of The Year Bill Evans…
Legendary apple grower Bill Evans, who along with his wife, Jeannette, farmed more apple acreage than any grower in the Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
New Fact Sheet Analyzes Weed Seeds And T…
Topics covered include how weed seeds travel, when they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated. Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Scientists Aim To Improve Nitrogen, Wate…
Genetic research intends to develop varieties with enhanced nutrient uptake. Read More
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Report: Florida Cannabis Business To App…
Lofty projections include a compound annual growth rate of 140%. Read More
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Florida Citrus Community Tasked To Unify…
A group effort is necessary to forge ahead. Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Orondis Opti Fungicide Receives Registra…
The product provides control of Oomycete diseases in vegetables and other specialty crops. Read More
Fruits
December 6, 2016
Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 2017 Variety Show…
For more information on these varieties, contact Fowler Nurseries, Inc. Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 525 Fowler Rd. Newcastle, CA 9565827 Phone: Read More
Vegetables
December 6, 2016
Rupp Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showca…
For more information, contact, Rupp Seeds: 17919 County Rd. B, Wauseon, OH 43567 800-700-1199; WEBSITE www.RuppSeeds.com FAX 419-337-5491; EMAIL [email protected] Read More
Farm Marketing
December 6, 2016
Registration Is Open For 32nd Annual Nor…
The six-day event for agritourism operators heads to the Northeast with highlights including bus tours, educational sessions and workshops, and business exchange. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
December 5, 2016
Best Practices For Bactericides Key To V…
Approval finally cleared for antimicrobial applications, and now growers wait and hope to see positive results. Read More
Citrus
December 5, 2016
South Florida Endures Driest November On…
Region has not experienced any significant rainfall since Hurricane Matthew. Read More
Fruits
December 5, 2016
Fall Creek Nursery 2017 Variety Showcase…
For information about these varieties, contact Fall Creek Nursery: Fall Creek Nursery 39318 Jasper Lowell Road Lowell, OR 97452 800-538-30015 [email protected] Read More
Fruits
December 5, 2016
Team Coverage: Fruit And Nut Industry Co…
Can’t make it to the biggest fruit and vegetable conferences? No sweat, we’ll take you there. Read More
Vegetables
December 4, 2016
Rispens Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Sho…
For more information, contact Rispens Seeds: 1357 Dutch American Way, P.O. Box 310, Beecher, IL 60401 708-946-6560; WEBSITE RispensSeeds.com FAX Read More
GenNext Growers
December 4, 2016
New Loans Available For Small, Beginning…
USDA recently announced streamlined guaranteed Loans and additional lender category for small-scale operators. Read More