Tag Archives food safety

The European Commission (EC) has introduced a “landmark package to modernize, simplify and strengthen the agri-food chain in Europe” by reducing the number of food and feed regulations from 70 pieces to five. In addition to addressing regulatory enforcement and funding, the proposed package describes new procedures, preventative measures and risk-based controls related to plant and animal health, including plant reproductive materials. Among other things, the recommendations discuss (i) combining animal health regulations under a single piece of legislation focused on preventative efforts, livestock traceability and disease prioritization; (ii) upgrading the plant health regime to increase surveillance of both domestic and imported crops; and (iii) implementing “more simplified and flexible rules for the marketing of seeds and other plant reproductive material… to ensure productivity, adaptability and diversity of Europe’s crop production.” To finance these goals and improve accountability, the new rules would change the way member states fund official controls…

The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched public consultations on two sets of proposed legislation, “The Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2013” and “The Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes, and Extraction Solvents (England) Regulations 2013.” The first set of regulations related to food contaminants will revoke the 2010 version and take into account new European Commission regulations regarding (i) “maximum levels for nitrate in foodstuffs”; (ii) “maximum levels for the presence of coccidiostats and histomonostats in food resulting from the unavoidable carry-over of these substances in non-targeted feed”; and (iii) under-enforcement of EU provisions providing for “the labeling of groundnuts, other oilseeds, derived products thereof and cereals.” The Contaminants in Food Regulations will also revoke “national legislation on mineral hydrocarbons in food and revoke and remake[] the provisions of the Erucic Acid in Food Regulations 1977.” The second set of regulations will consolidate “all legislation within [FSA’s] remit covering food…

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a final rule, effective May 6, 2013, that amends federal meat and poultry products inspection regulations to remove sodium benzoate, sodium propionate and benzoic acid from the list of substances prohibited for use in meat or poultry products. According to FSIS, after considering the comments and petitions it received, as well as confirming that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had no objections to the safety of the substances, the agency has determined “that sodium benzoate, sodium propionate, and benzoic acid, under the conditions proposed in the petitions, are both safe and suitable for use as antimicrobial agents in certain RTE [ready-to-eat] meat and poultry products.” FSIS said that new uses of these substances in meat or poultry products will continue to be approved by FDA for safety and by FSIS for suitability. See Federal Register, March 7, 2013.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced two additional public meetings to discuss proposed rules to establish standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption (the produce safety proposed rule), and for current good manufacturing practice and hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for human food (the preventive controls proposed rule). The meetings are scheduled for March 11-12 in Chicago and March 27-28 in Portland, Oregon. FDA anticipates that the proposed produce safety rule would “reduce foodborne illnesses associated with the consumption of produce.” The proposed preventative controls rule would evidently apply to human food and require domestic and foreign facilities that must register under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to have written plans that identify hazards, specify the steps that will be put in place to minimize or prevent those hazards, monitor results and act to correct problems that arise. See…

According to a notice published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), several Codex Alimentarius committees have invited member countries and observer organizations to join electronic working groups (eWGs). The Food Hygiene Committee seeks participation on a parasites eWG to further develop proposed draft guidelines on controlling the zoonotic parasites Trichinella spp. and Cysticercus bovis. The Fish and Fish Products Committee seeks participation on a food additives eWG “to prepare proposals for food additives in the standards for fish and fishery products, following the approach taken for the Standard for Smoked Fish and to focus on technological justification for those food additives.” This committee also seeks participants for fish sauce and scallop meat eWGs. The Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses Committee seeks participation on a nutrient reference values eWG and an addition of essential nutrients to foods eWG. Deadlines for and more details…

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended for five years a 2007 food safety agreement with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) to “enhance cooperation between the U.S. and China on food and feed safety.” The agreement includes provisions enhancing FDA’s “ability to identify high-risk food products entering the United States from China,” facilitating food facility inspections, focusing on “high-risk foods,” and creating processes for FDA to “accept relevant, verified information from AQSIQ regarding registration and certification.” See CFSAN Constituent Update, December 11, 2012.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that, as of February 8, 2013, it will require producers of non-intact raw beef and all ready-to-eat products containing meat and poultry to hold shipments until they pass agency testing for foodborne pathogens. FSIS announced its plan to implement this policy in April 2011. In the past, FSIS’s practice has apparently been “to allow products tested for adulterants to bear the mark of inspection, and to enter commerce, even when test results have not been received.” FSIS had asked, but not required, official establishments to maintain control of products tested for adulterants pending test results. According to FSIS, “because establishments, including official import inspection establishments, were not consistently maintaining control of product, despite FSIS’s request that they do so, adulterated product was entering commerce.” FSIS has reportedly stated that if the new requirement had been in place…

Canadian Governor General David Johnson has approved through royal assent the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA), which aims to improve food safety by focusing on unsafe practices, import surveillance and food traceability. Passed unanimously by the House of Commons, the act consolidates some of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA’s) existing food commodity statutes—including the Fish Inspection Act, Meat Inspection Act, Canada Agricultural Products Act, and Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act—although the Food and Drug Act will continue to provide “overarching protection for consumers from any foods that are unsuitable for consumption, including those marketed exclusively within provinces.” In particular, SFCA expands CFIA’s authority to address food safety risks, deter deceptive practices and develop regulations for tracing and recalling food. The act also gives CFIA the authority to certify all Canadian food commodities destined for export and reinforces import controls by “including powers to register or license importers,” with…

The U.S. Senate has approved a bill (S. 743), as amended by the House, that will strengthen whistleblower protections applicable to federal employees. According to the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign, the new legislation, if signed into law as expected by President Barack Obama (D), will protect previously vulnerable employees, such as a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) district office manager who reports complaints by FSIS poultry inspectors that a company has increased line speeds making it impossible for workers to remove all potentially contaminated fowl from the line. The new law would also protect a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector who exposes falsified Salmonella records at a produce operation and an FDA researcher whose findings on a controversial food ingredient are stifled by management. See Food Integrity Campaign News Release, November 13, 2012; FoodQualityNews.com and Meatingplace.com, November 15, 2012.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a Science Strategy 2012-2016 outlining the agency’s plans to protect the food supply chain “in the coming years through up-to-date, science-based risk assessments.” Intended to complement EFSA’s corporate Strategic Plan 2009-2013, the new strategy reflects internal deliberations among its Scientific Committee, Advisory Forum, Management Board and staff, and various stakeholders. The document focuses on four objectives designed to (i) “further develop [the] excellence of EFSA’s scientific advice”; (ii) “optimize the use of risk assessment capacity in the EU”; (iii) “develop and harmonize methodologies and approaches to assess risks associated with the food chain”; and (iv) “strengthen the scientific basis for risk assessment and risk monitoring.” To achieve these goals, the strategy proposes several key initiatives, including a bid to “enhance the contribution of EFSA staff to support the scientific work of the EFSA Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels.” EFSA has also recommended…

Close