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Progress Reported in Year One of Food Protection Plan

Released on Dec. 1, 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s report on the first year of its implementation of the Food Protection Plan lists advances in scientific methods, staffing, international collaboration, and readiness. The plan was launched to safeguard domestic and imported food from contamination throughout the food supply chain using three core strategies: prevention of food-borne disease outbreaks, then intervention and response if they do occur.

"Science and 21st Century technologies help drive the FDA's efforts to transform our food safety efforts from the Food Protection Plan into a reality," said Commissioner of Food and Drugs Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. "Every day, the FDA is working with foreign countries, state and local governments, regulated industry, and consumer groups to ensure the safety of the food supply. We also continue to work with members of Congress to achieve new authorities requested in the Food Protection Plan."

Highlights of the accomplishments in the plan's first year include these:

  • FDA is establishing foreign offices in five regions that export food to the United States: China, India, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, with staff already hired for China and India.
  • The agency released the CARVER self-assessment tool for industry and conducted training seminars for industry on it.
  • FDA is hiring an international notification coordinator to manage a more robust exchange of information between itself and foreign counterpart regulatory authorities.
  • Irradiation of iceberg lettuce and spinach was approved to control pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 in or on them.
  • FDA developed methods to detect melamine and cyanuric acid in feed and feed ingredients, and the agency is using genetic analysis to identify Salmonella strains from seafood imports.

During FY 2008, FDA made 5,930 inspections of high-risk domestic food establishments. It hired two emergency/complaint-response coordinators to improve its response to emergencies involving animal feed, including pet food, and has signed agreements with six U.S. states to form a Rapid Response Team to integrate an all-hazards response capability for food and food-borne illness responses.

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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