Tag Archives food safety

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued “COVID-19 and food safety: guidance for food businesses,” which provides information on the risks of transmission of COVID-19 in the food and beverage industry. “It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging,” the guidance states. “Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply.” Instead, it urges industry to “reinforce personal hygiene measures and provide refresher training on food hygiene principles to eliminate or reduce the risk of food surfaces and food packaging materials becoming contaminated with the virus from food workers.” The guidance provides specifics on hygiene standards, such as open food displays and the use of disposable gloves. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also provided several resources for food and beverage companies, including a list of frequently asked questions. The website features regularly updated questions on a number…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced "A New Era of Smarter Food Safety," a public meeting "to get input from a broad cross-section of stakeholders on a modern approach the Agency is taking to strengthen its protection of the food supply." The meeting, which will be held October 21, 2019, is intended to "foster a dialogue with our domestic and international regulatory and public health partners, industry, consumers, academia, and others," and input will "be used to shape an FDA Blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety."

U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) have introduced the Food Date Labeling Act, which aims to "end consumer confusion around food date labeling and ensure Americans do not throw out perfectly good food," according to a press release. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The proposed law would establish "Best if Used By" to communicate that the quality may decline following the listed date, while "Use By" would communicate that a product should not be consumed after the listed date. "Food labeling is important for consumer education, but the current practice is confusing and outdated. This bill takes a step toward reducing food waste by helping consumers understand the meaning behind date labels," Newhouse is quoted as saying. "The legislation also helps restaurants and grocery stores bridge the gap when it comes to donating food to shelters, food banks and other…

The U.K. National Audit Office has released a report that "examines the effectiveness of the current regulatory arrangements to ensure that food is safe to eat and is what it says it is." The report found that spending on maintaining food safety systems in the country has declined, and some local authorities "are failing to meet statutory objectives to conduct interventions." The agency also purportedly found that the "regulatory system lacks the full range of enforcement powers to ensure businesses supply safe food."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a report detailing its investigation into a 2018 outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce. The report describes the FDA traceback team's investigation into farms with potential links to the outbreak that culminated in a December product recall. "The FDA continues to recommend that leafy green growers, buyer/shippers and retailers be able to trace product back to the specific source in real time and make information about the source, such as harvest date and standardized growing regions, readily available for consumers on either packaging or point of sale signs, or by other means," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release. "We’re pleased to see many companies in the leafy green industry take voluntary steps to quickly respond to our previous recommendations. We believe this is the best approach to be able to inform consumers should there be any future…

Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has published a report on food safety in the United States. The report finds an increase in food recalls since 2013 but acknowledges that systemic advances in food-safety issue detection may partly account for that increase. The authors make a number of policy recommendations, including (i) requiring food-production plants to address the most common pathogens in their safety plans; (ii) establishing "clear enforcement consequences for recurring violations of food safety protections or plans"; (iii) declaring antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella as "an adulterant in meat and poultry"; (iv) improving food traceability; (v) granting the U.S. Department of Agriculture "mandatory recall authority for contaminated food"; and (vi) penalizing companies that "continue to sell products after a recall."

The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), which consolidates 14 Canadian food safety laws into one set of rules, went into effect January 15, 2019. The final rules were published in June 2018 and aim to "provide clear and consistent rules for food commodities so consumers can be confident that food on grocery shelves is safer to eat, whether it is produced in Canada or abroad." The rules align with many U.S. rules to streamline importing and exporting of food products between the countries. In addition, Health Canada has proposed rules for the sale of cannabis, including the proposed creation of "edible cannabis," "cannabis extracts" and "cannabis topicals" classes of products. The agency also proposed "new regulatory controls to address the public health and public safety risks associated with these new classes of cannabis, including their appeal to youth and the risks of accidental consumption, overconsumption, and foodborne illness, among other…

The European Commission has proposed changes to directives governing food safety, marketing and distribution. According to an EU news release, the proposal would update the General Food Law, "which dates back from 2002 and thus needs an update," and "will give citizens greater access to information submitted to the European Food Safety Authority [(EFSA)] on approvals concerning the agri-food chain." The EU proposes to create a registry of commissioned studies available to the public and predicts that Member States will be more involved in EFSA's governance structure and scientific panels. The proposal also reportedly targets "dual foods," or foods marketed across the continent but produced and sold with ingredients of reduced quality in some areas. Additional details on the New Deal for Consumers, including proposed rules on collective redress, appear in Shook's Product Liability Bulletin.

An alert appearing on Yelp that discloses San Francisco health inspection scores may “improve the functioning of markets” and help consumers make “better decisions," but critics reportedly say the posted scores illustrate the failures of the city's food-safety inspection system. Two researchers, who authored “Digitizing Disclosures: The Case of Restaurant Hygiene Scores,” previously helped Yelp design the alert boxes, which appear on pages for about five percent of San Francisco restaurants. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the alert boxes reduced Yelp users’ “intention to visit” by 21 percent, despite the intention of the alerts to be a system of accountability rather than a warning of deterrence. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) told the Chronicle that the scores are based on routine inspections conducted every six to 18 months. If restaurants earn a low inspection score, they have a week to correct the violations or face closure. “If you see [a low…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released the 2017 edition of the FDA Food Code, a set of model regulations and advice for the reduction of foodborne illnesses, including suggested uniform standards for retail food safety, inspections and audits. The Code includes (i) a requirement for a person in charge of the establishment to be a “Certified Food Protection Manager”; (ii) an added section regarding the use of bandages, finger cots and stalls; (iii) standardized cooking times and temperatures for “intact and non-intact” meat and poultry; and (iv) updated procedures for operation during extended water or electrical outages.

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