Food safety has always been one of the top priorities of the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). Strengthening it more, the agency is now shifting its focus from responding to foodborne illness to preventing it. To accomplish the same, as part of the FDA-track project, FDA has recently set up a Food Safety Dashboard to track the impact of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) seven core regulations, and to assess their success, and to refine their enforcement.
As we embark on a new era of smarter food safety, the successful implementation of FSMA will support the FDA's objective of reducing the incidence of disease and death caused by preventable contamination of FDA-regulated food products. The FDA recently announced the release of two measures which will help to monitor the outcomes of FSMA regulations in the areas of audits and recalls, such as:
- Good Manufacturing Practice, threat Assessment and risk-Based Preventive Controls guidelines for both human food and animal feed.
- Imported food safety, including the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) information.
With time, additional data is expected to be added to the Food Safety Dashboard to improve the accuracy of the FSMA results. All goods imported in the U.S. market are also required to comply with the same domestic drug laws and regulations. The current inspection data provide a snapshot of compliance with these regulations.
The prevention-oriented program developed by the FSMA is not fail-proof. To overcome this issue, the FDA has decided to track the response to issues, as and when they occur. One of the metrics that the FDA has begun tracking is how swiftly a company can issue a public notice to recall Class I category human and animal foods; the most critical recall. The FDA will update the dashboard periodically as per the metrics related to Days from Recall Initiation to a Firm Press Release to the Public.
The interpretation of data is influenced by several factors, particularly in the early stages of FSMA implementation, such as:
- The preventive controls and FSVP laws define flexible compliance dates according to the business size, allowing more time for smaller businesses to comply
- The FDA does not audit the same firms on a monthly or annual basis, so these inspection findings do not reflect a consistent group of firms
- The FDA's purpose of applying the FSMA rules is to "educate before and while we regulate." The FDA performs comprehensive audits that promote awareness to aid businesses align and comply with the industry standards while enforcing actions on food safety concerns that might act as a threat to the public health
Considering the above-mentioned factors, the agency intends to develop concrete indicators in the future to measure the progress of achieving the performance goals as per the Food Safety dashboard. Having said that, stay updated on future developments and stay compliant.