FDA to Launch Pilot Program to Enhance States' Food Safety
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on July 31 launched a national program to bring about the adoption of more uniform, equivalent, and high-quality regulatory programs by state agencies responsible for regulating facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food under FDA's jurisdiction.
The Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards--the result of five years of intensive cooperative effort by federal and state regulators--have been approved by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and will be pilot-tested in New York, Oregon, and Missouri before Sept. 30, 2007. The standards define best practices for the critical elements of state regulatory programs designed to protect the public from foodborne illness and injury, including:
- the program's regulatory foundation;
- staff training;
- quality assurance;
- food defense preparedness and response;
- foodborne illness and incident investigation;
- education and outreach;
- resource management;
- laboratory resources; and
- program assessment.
"This risk-based program represents a significant step in further integrating our food safety system," said Margaret O'K. Glavin, FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "We realize it will be several years before it's fully implemented, but we're confident this program will bring great benefits to the public health."
FDA says that programmatic activities can vary from state to state and such variations can lead to inconsistencies in oversight of food safety but it feels that adoption of voluntary standards for state regulatory programs will help to establish a uniform basis for measuring and improving the performance of state programs for regulating manufactured food, thus reducing foodborne illness hazards in food facilities.
Each standard has corresponding self-assessment worksheets and several have supplemental worksheets and forms to assist state regulators in determining whether their state program addresses all of the elements in the standards.