After a flood of food regulations during President Obama’s administration, the food regulatory environment in the United States could experience a drought in new regulations due to the deregulatory philosophy of the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress.

In April, President Trump signed an executive order with the objective of eliminating unnecessary “regulatory burdens” for the agricultural sector. Earlier this year, the U.S. House passed legislation (H.R. 5), referred to as the “filthy food act” by opponents, which would impede the development of new food regulations. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this month. Continue Reading

Food manufacturers who find an issue during an internal food safety audit need to perform a root cause analysis and take corrective actions in order to eliminate the problem. But what if subsequent internal audits reveal the same repeating issue? That is a good indication that the company did not find all of the root causes to place corrective actions against. And for many companies, the issue comes back repeatedly despite corrective actions.  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

Years ago, I was in a production facility, and a worker threw some trash into a barrel of product destined for a local pig farmer. The worker thought his actions were acceptable because of the common belief that pigs eat anything.

Over the years, many production facilities have taken products and by-products failing to meet finished product specifications and have sold them to “pig farmers” or other animal food companies. As I witnessed, sometimes employees would throw foreign material into the “pig food” or “animal food” container. Often, this product would be offered for “free” to farmers, as long as they picked it up frequently. Commonly, these containers on the back dock or in a walk-in refrigerator would not be labeled. Workers would throw trash in them because they were not trained about the risk of mixing trash with potential animal feed. Continue Reading

Are you trying to determine where to start on your journey to Preventive Controls Compliance? Well, you are not alone. It seems every day uncovers a new, little nuance that does not fit in a neat FSMA box. Start on the path to Preventive Controls compliance with our five steps below:

1. Focus on what we already know. Many rules have yet to be implemented, and the guidelines are not available. So, focus on finding a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) training program. Attending a PCQI training program will jump start your efforts toward Preventive Controls compliance. After training, assemble your team to review the process flow chart, your raw material(s) and an ingredient hazard analysis. If a flow chart or hazard analysis has not been developed, this should be your first step. It is important to note that the preventive control rule does not require a flow chart, but it is almost impossible to perform a hazard analysis without one. 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

Implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations will continue despite the outcome of the recent presidential election and suggestions to reduce federal oversight of the food industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published two guidance documents to support industry compliance with upcoming FSMA regulations, including the controversial FSMA requirement for disclosing hazards, and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP).  Continue Reading

Back in 1984, as a very young scientist, I attended my first meeting of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC), now AOAC INTERNATIONAL. Established over a century ago, the association is dedicated to ensuring analytical methods address the needs of stakeholders in several industries, including the food industry.

Through its work, AOAC helps companies state the nutritional value of products with added confidence while minimizing health risks associated with microbiological and chemical contaminants. AOAC INTERNATIONAL conducts Expert Review Panels, publishes Official Methods of Analysis, and sets standards for analytical performance for methods. Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), AOAC is now addressing a broader scope of complex food safety issues than back in 1984. As a leader in the food safety industry, Mérieux NutriSciences scientists have been heavily involved in the association over the past three decades. Continue Reading