The U.S. FDA issues guidance for industry entitled, “Third-Party Certification Body Accreditation for Food Safety Audits: Model Accreditation Standards.” This final guidance contains FDA recommendations on third-party certification body qualifications for accreditation to conduct food safety audits and to issue food and/or facility certifications under the voluntary third-party certification program established under FSMA. In creating the model standards, FDA looked to existing standards for certification bodies to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and costs.
The agency also issues for public comment a draft guidance to help sprout operations meet new standards to keep sprouts free of contamination. Sprout operations have new requirements under the Produce Safety Rule mandated by the FDA FSMA. Sprouts present a unique risk because the conditions under which they are typically produced are also ideal for the growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. The Produce Safety Rule requires, among other things, that covered sprout operations take measures to prevent the introduction of dangerous microbes into seeds or beans used for sprouting; test spent sprout irrigation water for the presence of certain pathogens; test the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding environment for the presence of the Listeria species or Listeria monocytogenes; and take corrective actions when needed. The draft guidance will be available for public comment until July 2017 at www.regulations.gov.
In addition, FDA completes its evaluation of a variety of pineapple genetically engineered by Del Monte Fresh Produce (DMFP) to have pink flesh, concluding that there are no unresolved safety or regulatory questions about the pineapple. DMFP submitted information to the agency to demonstrate that the pink flesh pineapple is as safe and nutritious as its conventional counterparts. DMFP’s new pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapple that convert the pink pigment lycopene to the yellow pigment beta carotene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed. DMPF plans to identify the food as “extra sweet pink flesh pineapple” on tags attached to the crown of the fruit.