By Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs
September was National Food Safety Education Month, and what better way to celebrate than with an FDA checkup.
NGA hosted a recent webinar in which John Marcello, senior advisor in FDA’s Office of State Cooperative Programs (OSCP), offered a joint regulatory-industry perspective on retail modernization within the New Era of Smarter Food Safety.
Marcello addressed a number of topics and updates including the retail deli risk factor study, monitoring food safety management systems, targeting pathogens of concern, responsibilities of the person-in-charge, enhanced training, and a focus on continuous improvement.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
Core elements. The framework for the New Era for Smarter Food Safety includes technology-enabled traceability, smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response, ensuring food safety for new business models and retail modernization, and promoting food safety culture throughout the food system.
Food safety for e-commerce is evolving. Nearly 3,000 people attended an e-conference summit in October 2021, with high interest in the regulatory landscape for the channel. FDA continues to work with key stakeholders on how existing regulations apply to specific e-comm activities while building relationships with third-party delivery companies.
Modernizing traditional retail food safety approaches. FDA is conducting an independent review of the program’s effectiveness in preventing foodborne illness, with a concept paper focusing on three objectives: defining the current framework, operations and processes; providing recommendations to efficiently meet program outcomes; and conducting a gap analysis toward an action plan for improvement.
Increasing food code adoption. Hoping to publish an updated food code this year, FDA is developing a food code adoption tool kit and has completed a survey of state food program managers on their code adoption process and barriers to adoption.
The road ahead. In 2023 and beyond, FDA will provide clarity for new business models on regulatory controls, educational efforts and “who owns the last mile.” The agency will continue to work with stakeholders on a food code adoption strategy and tool kit; retail industry food safety management systems; risk-based inspection methods and root cause analysis; increasing industry’s use of new digital tools and incentive that prompt desired behaviors; enhancing existing manager certification and food handler education and training requirements; and leveraging facility and equipment design as preventive controls for retail food safety.
Click here to view a recording of this webinar.