By David Fairfield, Senior Vice President of Feed
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Sept. 30 launched a food safety dashboard designed to track the impact of the seven foundational rules established under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
For each of the major FSMA rules, FDA has identified measures intended to assist the agency in evaluating how well the rules are being implemented and identifying areas for improvement. FDA states this data will help the agency identify trends in food safety, implement a risk-informed planning and resource allocation framework, and refine its FSMA implementation efforts.
Currently, the food safety dashboard contains initial metrics that begin to track inspection and recall outcomes for the following FSMA rules:
- “Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls” rules for both human food and food for animals (preventive controls rules).
- Imported food safety, including data relevant to the “Foreign Supplier Verification Program” (FSVP) rule.
More specifically, current data available on the food safety dashboard for the preventive controls rules pertains to: 1) adoption of food safety plans by firms subject to the human food rule; 2) compliance with human food supply-chain program requirements; 3) preventive controls inspection outcomes for domestic human and animal food facilities; and 4) current good manufacturing practice inspection outcomes for animal food facilities.
In addition, the dashboard contains information on the number of Class I and Class II recall events attributed to food produced at facilities subject to the preventive controls rules for human and animal food. Over time, FDA intends to populate the food safety dashboard with additional data to show more FSMA outcomes.
In announcing the dashboard, FDA also emphasized that many factors influence the interpretation of the data, especially in the early phases of FSMA implementation. For example:
- The FSMA rules featured staggered compliance dates based on business size to allow smaller businesses more time to comply;
- FDA does not inspect the same firms on a quarterly or annual basis, so initial inspection results do not represent a consistent group of firms; and
- FDA’s approach to implementing the FSMA rules has been to “educate before and while we regulate.” Under this approach, FDA conducts interactive inspections that emphasize education and bringing industry into compliance, while focusing enforcement actions on food safety problems that pose a threat to public health.
Considering these factors, FDA states that it will take several years to establish meaningful trends to evaluate progress toward achieving the performance goals presented on the dashboard.