By Tracy Heim, NFU Intern

As fall transitions to winter, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing their New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint implementation. On October 26, the FDA hosted a webinar that gave an inside look at the progress made in the first 100 days since the Blueprint announcement in July. The Blueprint outlines the approach the FDA plans to follow over the next decade to modernize food safety, improve food traceability, reduce food contamination, respond more quickly to outbreaks, and strengthen the culture of food safety. In the webinar, FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas emphasized that the new approach is not a replacement to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but instead builds on and strengthens compliance with FSMA.

To learn more about the National Farmers Union’s investment in providing FSMA technical assistance and training, check out the Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC).

The Blueprint asks policymakers, producers, and consumers to imagine a future where food safety information like recalls are updated in minutes – not days or weeks – and where more food-borne illnesses are prevented. Yiannas introduced four speakers that focused on the four core elements, or themes, of the Blueprint:

  1. Tech-enabled Traceability targets the FSMA Proposed Rule for Food Traceability to establish additional traceability requirements and standardize critical tracking events and key data elements. This proposed rule is currently available for comments in the Federal Register and the FDA will hold 3 virtual public meetings. Tech-enabled Traceability defines its goal as harmonizing traceability from farm to fork using technology that is cost-effective, transparent, and scalable. This element involves standardizing terms and creating a foundation for future technology to be interoperable.
  2. Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response envisions a culture of collaboration where data is effectively shared across departments and industries so that agencies can perform root cause analysis to get at what exactly went wrong and use that information to predict and prevent future outbreaks.
  3. New Business Models and Retail Modernization imagines how kitchen and processing equipment can improve food safety and explores how e-commerce impacts decisions around public health.
  4. Food Safety Culture strives to adequately assess, encourage, and support food safety culture through new messaging, tools, and other strategies.

Across each element, the Blueprint promotes public-private partnerships for sharing data across industries, building networks to easily share information, and developing tech-enabled traceability tools. All speakers emphasized the collaborative nature of the new approach and expect to engage with the public through structured public-private projects and by seeking input from stakeholders on strategies. The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, the First 100 Days webinar, and other resources are available on the FDA’s website.

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