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article imageFDA to adopt new methods to assess imported foods

By Tim Sandle     Feb 27, 2019 in Health
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed a revised strategy to meet four goals in modernizing the oversight of foods imported to the U.S. The aim is to reduce the number of imported food safety issues.
The FDA objectives are, first, to preventing food safety problems in foreign supply chains at a point prior to entry into the U.S. the second aspect is with have a mechanism in place to effectively detect and block the entry of unsafe foods.
The third area is having the agility to respond rapdily when information about unsafe imported foods is passed onto the agency. The fourth, and final, part concerns measuring progress to gain assurance that the imported food safety program remains robust and is succeeding in stopping potentially harmful food from entering the country.
In short, the four pillars of the strategy are:
Goal 1: Food Offered for Import Meets U.S. Food Safety Requirements,
Goal 2: FDA Border Surveillance Prevents Entry of Unsafe Foods,
Goal 3: Rapid and Effective Response to Unsafe Imported Food,
Goal 4: Effective and Efficient Food Import Program.
According to FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb: “Our modern strategy is designed to leverage our different authorities and tools to provide a multi-layered, data-driven, smarter approach to imported food safety.”
Volunteers sorting through food  Calgary Food Bank
Volunteers sorting through food, Calgary Food Bank
This approach forms part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which is “transforming the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness to preventing it.2
At the heart of the strategy is risk assessment. The FDA will not waste valuable resources in inspecting food manufacturing centers in countries or business where there is an established record of food safety. Instead, the agency will streamline inspections towards new food importers or countries where food standards have historically been found to be lower.
According to website BioExpert the new measures are necessary based on the level of food imports and recent food safety issues. The U.S. imports around 15 percent of its overall food supply from some 200 countries. In the past decade there has been an upward trend in terms of certain food imports, with 32 percent of fresh vegetables; 55 percent of fresh fruit; and 94% of seafood coming from other countries.
The low-risk countries are Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Each of these has been assessed as having a comparable food standards system in place. Progress is being made with the European Union for a similar system of mutual assessment. Where this leaves a post-Brexit U.K., however, is uncertain.
More about Food, Imports, Food poisoning, US FDA, Regulation
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