Latest Rule Boosts Our Food Safety Preparedness

The registration of food facilities has long been considered a key component of food safety.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently finalized another rule to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, with this one requiring the registration of domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for consumption by people or animals in the United States. Facilities will be required to provide a unique facility identifier number by Oct. 1, 2020, as part of the registration process, which will allow FDA to verify the facility-specific address.

Erwin C. Miller, M.S., chief of the Data Systems Integration Branch in FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, observed in a blog post that the rule's requirements "will be invaluable in providing the FDA with more accurate information about facility locations and information about the activities within facilities—thus aiding investigators in responding to foodborne illness outbreaks or earthquakes, floods, or other disasters. The final rule will also help the agency identify high-risk facilities and ensure that personnel with the proper training are dispatched to conduct an inspection."

FDA postponed the requirement for mandatory electronic registrations and the submission of a UFI to 2020 to give facilities time to comply. The registration rule affects establishments located on farms and "farm-operated businesses" by expanding the definition of a "retail food establishment," which is not required to register as a food facility. (Congress, through the act, directed FDA to amend this definition. Under the final rule, a farm-operated business is a business managed by one or more farms and that conducts manufacturing/processing not on the farm.)

The registration of food facilities has long been considered a key component of food safety, Miller noted, and the September 2001 terrorist attacks highlighted the need to enhance the security of the infrastructure of the United States, including the food supply.

The rule also makes electronic registration mandatory (with a waiver process being available) beginning Jan. 4, 2020. The next biennial registration period will be Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2016.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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