June saw many important updates from the FDA, EFSA, the UK, Netherlands and Ireland. Each of these stories are highlighted in the industry round-up below and are accompanied by a full transcript and links for further detailed reading.
- Published Draft Guidance for Produce Safety Rule Requirements
The FDA published draft guidance which will assist in developing alternate curricula to satisfy Produce Safety Rule Requirements.
The guidance provides recommendations on which factors should be considered when selecting or developing an alternative curriculum training to the Product Safety Alliance’s Standardized Curriculum Training.
The comment period is open until October 2nd, 2019.
- Deadlines Set for FDA to Establish Reporting Requirements for “High-Risk” Foods
The FDA has set a deadline of September 8th, 2020 for publishing a proposed rule for the reporting requirements of high-risk foods under FSMA.
This follows a lawsuit in October last year by the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health which sued the FDA for failing to meet statutory deadlines under FSMA.
The date for the final rule, including recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods, has been set for November 7th, 2020
- FDA issues guidance on determining FSMA business size
The FDA has finalized guidance for determining business size for those under the Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food rules.
A “small” business has been defined as one that employs fewer than 500 full-time equivalent employees and includes subsidiaries and affiliates in this number.
EFSA survey on food safety in the EU
A European Food Safety Authority survey conducted by Kantar for World Food Safety Day on June 7th revealed that 3 in 10 Europeans had not changed their consumption behaviour because of information about a food risk.
The survey focused on a number of comprehensive questions and include several findings, including that television is the most common source of information about food risks, that 1 in 5 Europeans note food safety as their main concern when purchasing food, and that the respondents were most likely to be concerned about antibiotic, hormone or steroid residues in meat followed by pesticide residues, environmental pollutants and additives.
The report is available to read in full and a link is included in the description below this video on the Safefood 360° page.
Horsemeat investigation in Ireland
Elsewhere in Europe, the Irish police forces raided farms and commercial premises this month as part of an investigation into horse meat unfit for human consumption entering the supply chain. The raid follows an earlier discovery of microchips containing fraudulent data in March and it is suspected that some of those at the centre of the searches may have been victims of the fraudsters and not actively engaged in the food fraud.
This investigation is ongoing.
UK National Audit Office calls for food safety improvements
In the UK the National Audit Office has said that the Food Standards Agency is showing signs of strain as local authorities cut staff and delay hygiene checks. In response, the FSA has said that it was struggling to progress reforms because of the impact of Brexit.
Although the FSA spent £6.2million of its budget on Brexit Preparations, it received an additional £15million.
The NAO concluded its report with concerns about the future financial sustainability of the system and the current ability of the regulatory system to achieve value for money in response to uncertain circumstances with the UK’s exit from the EU, and recommended that the FSA and UK government should evaluate medium and long-term impacts of the EU exit on food regulation and identify potential resource gaps.
EFSA issues new advice on phosphates
The European Food Safety Authority have re-evaluated the safety of phosphates and for the first time has stated a group acceptable daily intake of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This conclusion will be relayed to the risk managers of the European Commission and Member States who regulate the use of phosphates as food additives in the EU.
Dutch Food Safety Authority issues
It has emerged that the Dutch Food Safety Authority (NVWA) gave authority for the transport of sick pigs to Germany and Belgium in 2017, a violation of EU law.
The Dutch agriculture minister has said an investigation into the working methods of food inspectors will be conducted and appropriate measures will be taken where necessary.
In a separate event, the Dutch Safety Board has remarked that the NVWA is not equipped to identify and prevent new health risks. This statement emerged after an investigation into the fipronil crisis of 2017 and the Safety Board were particularly critical of the NVWA’s decisiveness in acting on emerging risks.
UK Listeria outbreak grows with two more deaths
In England another two people have died as a result of a Listeria outbreak related to pre-made sandwiches in the National Health Service, bringing the total of deaths to 5.
The suspected contaminated ingredient is chicken and Listeria monocytogenes at a level of 190 colony forming units was detected in the sandwiches tested.
Both the supplier and its supplier of the meat have voluntarily ceased production while investigations continue.
Legislation improves transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment model
The European Council has formally adopted a new regulation on transparency and sustainability of EU risk assessment in the food chain.
The new regulation aims to increase the transparency of risk assessment in the food chain while strengthening the objectivity and independence of the studies used by the EFSA.
The new regulation should be published on September 6th and should become applicable by the end of March 2021.
Congressional push in the US for a single food safety agency
Reflecting similar issues in the US, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois are calling for the creation of a single federal agency.
Called the Safe Food Act of 2019 the new bill seeks a single agency that is accountable for food safety, research, prevention, inspection, investigations and labelling, and strengthen the oversight of foreign food facilities and improve food import inspections.
European Commission releases study on differences in EU food products composition
The European Commission published results of a pan-European testing campaign of food products to show that some products are identically or similarly branded while having a different composition. Analysing nearly 1,400 products in 19 EU countries, the study showed that 9% different in composition although the front of pack was identical and a further 22% had a different composition shared a similar front of pack.
As the next step, the Commission announced a new call for proposals in order to strengthen consumer organisations capacities to test products and identify potentially misleading practices. The deadline for these applications is November 6th.
That is your monthly Industry round up and thank you for watching. If you would like to know more about how food businesses globally use Safefood 360° to meet their compliance and quality demands, please send me a message, comment or visit Safefood360.com for more information.