FDA Food Protection Plan Makes Progress

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Protection Plan Progress Report, released on July 2 in conjunction with the Interagency Working Group on Import Safety Action Plan Update, shows significant areas of activity to further improve the safety of America's food supply since unveiling its Food Protection Plan in November 2007.

The improvements highlight the agency's efforts to address domestic and global changes in our food supply to help keep consumers enjoying one of the safest food supplies in the world.

"The Food Protection Plan is the comprehensive framework the agency needs to enhance the protection of our nation's food supply," said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs. "Implementing the strategic approaches outlined in the plan is essential if we are to enhance our ability to respond and intervene in foodborne outbreaks. But there is much more that needs to be done. We are hopeful that Congress will support these efforts by providing the proposed new authorities that we requested in the Food Protection Plan."

The FDA Food Protection Plan focuses on: prevention, building safety in from the start; intervention, using targeted risk-based inspections and testing; and response, responding rapidly when problems are identified.

FDA has been working collaboratively across the agency and with Federal, State and local partners as well as foreign governments to execute a number of the action steps laid out by the Food Protection Plan. Listed below are select accomplishments of the plan:

Prevention

  • In an effort to increase foreign capacity, the FDA "Beyond our Borders" initiative is underway.
  • FDA is implementing its landmark China Memoranda of Agreement (MOA).
  • FDA has provided registration materials to the Chinese government, identified points of contact for the MOA, and drafted the first five-year work plan.
  • FDA held its first bilateral meeting in March 2008 in Beijing, China. The meeting solidified the relationship with the General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ). Verbal agreements were made to focus the present efforts in fulfilling the MOA to aquaculture (five species plus Tilapia) and ingredients (wheat gluten, corn gluten, and rice protein).
  • FDA is moving forward to establish an FDA presence in China.
  • FDA delegation visited Indian counterparts to discuss requirements for an FDA presence in India.
  • In 2007, FDA began working in collaboration with the State Health and Agriculture departments in Virginia and Florida, several universities, and the produce industry on a multi-year Tomato Safety Initiative. As part of the initiative, FDA has led assessments of grower practices focusing on the factors believed to be associated with contamination of tomatoes with Salmonella. FDA has conducted assessments in Virginia and began assessments in Florida in April.
  • FDA is exploring current existing third-party certification programs.
  • FDA is developing ingredient, processing, and labeling standards for pet food. We are also developing ingredient and processing standards for animal feed.

Intervention

  • FDA is working with the New Mexico State University to develop a prototype system for improving electronic screening, using open-source intelligence, of imported products offered for entry into the U.S. The evaluation of the prototype system, PREDICT (Predictive Risk-Based Evaluation of Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting) has been completed and the final pilot evaluation document is under review.
  • FDA has developed a rapid detection method using flow cytometry to identify E. coli and Salmonella in food. This system is being used in poultry processing facilities to detect and prevent bacterial contamination during food processing.
  • FDA has completed a three-year plan to increase state inspections and will hire at least an additional 130 employees to conduct food field exams, inspections and sample collections using FY 2008 appropriated dollars.
  • FDA plans to conduct an additional 327 state contract food inspections in FY 2009 over the FY 2008 estimate.
  • In FY 2009, FDA also will conduct an additional 20,000 food import field exams above the FY 2008 performance goal.

Response

  • FDA is working with industry to identify best practices for traceability.
  • FDA is collaborating with other Federal agencies; State, local, tribal, and foreign governments and industry to develop the science and tools necessary to better understand the current risks of the food supply and to develop new detection technologies and improved response systems that rapidly react to food safety threats.
  • FDA issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for funding to establish state Rapid Response Teams to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks, perform trace backs of implicated foods and evaluate data from investigations to identify trends.
  • FDA is currently exploring the use of multiple and targeted channels to quickly alert consumers of a threat to food safety.

To view all the accomplishments listed in the Food Protection Plan Progress Report, go to www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/advance/food/progressreport.html.

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