A decade ago, allergens were an uncommon cause of meat and poultry product recalls in the United States. The proportion of meat and poultry products recalled annually due to allergens steadily increased from 8% in 2008 to 35% in 2012 due to increased awareness of the issue by inspection personnel and establishments. Moreover, the total number of recall events involving meat and poultry products due to undeclared allergens increased 103% between the calendar years 2012 and 2015. Undeclared allergens have now become the leading reason for recalls of meat and poultry products from the U.S. marketplace. Continue Reading

Questions about the role of industry standards for complying with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have existed since the law was enacted more than six years ago. Due to the upcoming requirements for foreign supplier verification, industry stakeholders are urging the FDA to extend the compliance date, and to clarify the role of private entities for supporting compliance with the new FSMA requirements for imported food.

The role of strategic partnerships for improving the safety of imported food was the focus of a two-day FDA public hearing held last week (February 14-15, 2017). The hearing followed public meetings held last year on imported food safety, which raised questions about the role of private certification schemes and third-party audits for supporting compliance with FSMA by foreign suppliers. Continue Reading

Believe it or not, it’s been nearly five years since Canada approved its comprehensive food safety legislation known as the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). The legislation was developed to streamline Canada’s food safety regulations, improve regulatory oversight, and increase international regulatory alignment with its key trading partners, particularly the United States. To implement the legislation, Canada recently published the proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Continue Reading

If you are subject to the final rule, Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF rule), then you should be aware of FDA’s new recommendations for controlling Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. Manufacturers, processors, packers and holders of RTE foods will benefit from an understanding of the strategies and recommendations described within the new draft guidance.

Released this month, the draft guidance sheds light on the agency’s thinking regarding effective strategies for controlling L. monocytogenes in RTE foods, including identifying the risks associated with raw materials and ingredients, listericidal process control, environmental monitoring, product testing, and the analysis of verification data trends. Continue Reading

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently unveiled its five-year strategic plan for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. Covering the fiscal years 2017-2021, the objectives of the Strategic Plan are classified within the core goals of preventing foodborne illness, modernizing inspection systems and scientific techniques, and improving operational excellence. Continue Reading

Industry Seeks Harmonization of FDA Nutrition Mandates 

Responding to food industry requests to harmonize the compliance dates of upcoming food labeling and nutrition initiatives, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently clarified that the compliance dates are already coordinated to take effect in summer 2018.

Industry groups contend, however, that it will be difficult for manufacturers to comply with the revised nutrition labeling rules since the agency has not yet provided key pieces of the regulatory puzzle. Continue Reading

FDA Revising Criteria for “Healthy” Food

Reflecting the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final guidance in late September to stipulate the approved use of the labeling claim “healthy” on packaged foods and to request industry comments regarding the use of the term. Industry comments should inform FDA’s efforts to redefine the term “healthy” in order to align with the new final rules for updating the Nutrition Facts Panel and serving size information for packaged foods. Continue Reading

States Preparing to Implement Produce Safety Rule
A partnership between federal and state regulators is vital for the successful implementation of the produce safety programs mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On September 9, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that 42 states will receive $21.8 million over a five-year period to facilitate the implementation of the produce safety rules. The participation of state regulators in the implementation of state produce safety programs is dependent upon federal funds, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). State and federal agencies will begin to coordinate efforts soon as certain produce safety requirements will take effect in January 2018 for large farms. Continue Reading