A Multi-Layer Approach for Safe Food Imports
FDA releases its “Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food,” which outlines the agency’s comprehensive approach to helping ensure the safety of food imported into the U.S. Determining the best way to use the full range of available tools across the different segments of the international food-supply chain—in ways that decrease public health risks while maintaining a level playing field for domestic and foreign producers—requires both dexterity and pragmatism. The strategy document describes how FDA is integrating the new import oversight tools with existing tools. The strategy is guided by four goals: 1) Food Offered for Import Meets U.S. Food Safety Requirements; 2) FDA Border Surveillance Prevents Entry of Unsafe Foods; 3) Rapid and Effective Response to Unsafe Imported Food; and 4) Effective and Efficient Food Import Program. The document outlines several methods the agency is using to accomplish these goals, including strategies for objectives. Click here to access the strategy document.
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USDA, FDA Make Formal Agreement to Regulate Cell-Cultured Food
The USDA FSIS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ FDA announce a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. The formal agreement addresses the regulatory oversight of human food produced using this new technology. The agencies agree upon a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to FSIS oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. FSIS will oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. This shared regulatory approach will ensure that cell-cultured products are produced safely and are accurately labeled.
In a year when total grocery store dollar growth reached only 2%, organic fresh produce surpassed the status quo according to new information released by the Organic Produce Network and Nielsen. In total, organic produce sales reached $5.6 billion in 2018, with the year ending on a high note as sales increased 13% the final week of the year. Fresh produce represented 26% of total store organic sales and a growth rate of 8.6% was on par with total store organic, which suggests a continued movement toward mainstream demand across product consumption. But products like strawberries and tomatoes experienced far greater growth in the conventional offering. Pricing is important for these categories. Prices were $1.97 to $3.38 per pound between conventional and organic tomatoes and $2.26 to $4.26 for conventional and organic strawberries. Onions, bell peppers, watermelon, and mandarins are all still disproportionately under-represented in organic sales compared to the total produce average. Ensuring organic items are available for purchase, particularly at key times of the year, such as summer holidays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, is a good starting point for commodities still trying to reach more organic shoppers.
SQF Code Recognized for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The SQF Food Safety Code for Primary Production is recognized as a procurement standard for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The recognition includes the production of livestock; growing and production of fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts; and extensive broad-acre agricultural operations including rice production. SQFI has developed an addendum to supplement the SQF Primary Production Code that sets the stringent sustainability, environmental, and welfare requirements prescribed by the Tokyo Organizing Committee. Growers and producers will be required to achieve and maintain certification to the SQF Food Safety Code for Primary Production and the SQF Tokyo Sustainability addendum. “SQFI is honored to be recognized by the Tokyo Organizing Committee and to be given the opportunity to integrate our globally recognized, GFSI-benchmarked food safety management standard with Tokyo’s rigorous sustainability requirements,” says Robert Garfield, chief food safety assessment officer and SVP, Safe Quality Food Institute. Get more information on the Tokyo 2020 Sustainability Plan here.
Guidance for Responding to Customer Complaints
USDA’s FSIS releases a best practices guideline to help the meat and poultry industry respond to customer complaints that are associated with adulterated or misbranded meat and poultry products. “FSIS has placed renewed emphasis on industry responding to customer complaints of foreign materials in meat and poultry and, as required, reporting those incidents to the agency within 24 hours once the determination has been made that the product is adulterated,” says Carmen Rottenberg, FSIS administrator. In 2012, FSIS announced a regulation requiring all establishments to report to the agency within 24 hours when they have shipped or received an adulterated product and that product is in commerce. While this requirement has been in effect for several years, recalls associated with foreign materials have recently been increasing. While FSIS specifically developed its guidance to address foreign material customer complaints, establishments can use the information for other complaints of adulterated or misbranded products. Access the draft guideline here.
Preventive Controls for Breweries
The Brewers Association is developing a resource to assist craft brewers of all sizes to establish effective food safety preventive controls in all aspects of their brewery operations. The goal is to create a resource that will serve as the accepted “industry standard” addressing the implementation of a comprehensive preventive control program in breweries. Comprehensive guidance to implement preventive controls is not applicable to the unique processes used in brewing and fermenting beer. In most cases, implementation of preventive controls for human food is not a mandated regulatory requirement for producers of alcoholic beverages. However, not only are brewers increasingly required by their customers to have food safety plans in place as a condition of doing business, it is recognized that brewers need more guidance in how and why they should take steps to protect the consumer. The project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019.
Climate Change Could Make Food Less Safe
As reported by Reuters, officials and researchers are advising governments to pay more attention to food safety as the planet warms and to address the issue in their action plans to tackle climate change. Climate change and the globalization of food production, coupled with a rising world population and increasing urbanization, pose new challenges to food safety, says the World Health Organization. “It is known that temperature increase as a result of greenhouse gas emissions may increase food contamination and foodborne diseases,” according to Cristina Tirado-von der Pahlen, director of international climate initiatives at California’s Loyola Marymount University. But her research found that only three countries mentioned food safety in their national action plans for adapting to climate change, prepared under U.N. negotiations.
Kestrel Management forms an alliance with Ultra Consultants to provide food safety compliance and remediation advisory services to North American food and beverage processors.
Hyland Levin LLP launches its Food and Beverage Law Group.
GFSI forms a Local Group in Australia and New Zealand, named GFSI AusNZ, as part of its regional outreach model.
Aquionics enters into a partnership agreement with Valcour Process Technologies for distributing its UV disinfection systems to cheese producers in the upper Midwest.
Wheatsheaf Group Limited acquires 90% of Purfresh, a provider of specialized controlled atmosphere systems that reduce cargo loss through spoilage in refrigerated ocean shipping containers.
The Food Laboratory Alliance adds AOAC International to its coalition of organizations devoted to the safety of the nation’s food supply and the quality of food laboratory testing.
ReposiTrak completes its Service Organization Control 1 and 2 Type 2 annual audit recertifications, a verification standard defined by Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
Biorigin Europe achieves GMP+ B3 – Trade, Collection and Storage, and Transshipment certification.
Corteva Agriscience forms a strategic R&D collaboration to advance ZeaKal’s technology to improve seed quality and increase crop yield by enhancing the photosynthetic capacity and efficiency of plants.