Following what may come to be regarded as one of the most important months in the history of food safety, August was a month where significant news could arguably be expected to be seen as trivial in comparison.
However, with updates from the WHO on its global food safety strategy, the European Commission recognizing food safety culture, and the USDA moving to combat organic food fraud, it may come to be as long-reaching and impactful a month as its predecessor.
Read on for more.
WHO seeking experts to update global food safety strategy
The World Health Organization (WHO) intends to update its global strategy for food safety by 2022.
This plan will include the identification and inclusion of experts to an advisory group for a period of two years to advise the WHO in its policy for strengthening food systems to reduce foodborne disease globally.
It intends to conduct a new report in collaboration with the UN FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in time for the 75th World Health Assembly in 2022.
European Commission to include food safety culture in regulation
The European Commission has included food safety culture for the first time in draft legislation.
The draft has introduced requirements for good hygiene practices which are intended to prevent, or at the least limit, substances which cause intolerances or allergies in equipment used for harvesting, transporting, and storing foodstuffs.
Having sought feedback on the proposal, the general comments are mixed with academia generally welcoming it, while stakeholders from private industry have raised concerns on perceived ambiguities in the legislation.
USDA accepting comments for preventing organic fraud
In order to combat fraud threats, the USDA is to launch a four-prong plan which takes inspiration from the Organic Trade Association to improve transparency and traceability of organic food.
Publishing announcements for a proposed rule at the beginning of the month, the USDA states it intends to “close gaps in the current regulations” which will deter organic fraud by reducing the number of exemptions from organic certification and requiring electronic import certifications, among other steps to demonstrate a more robust chain of custody across the supply chain.
Public comments for the rule are welcome until October 5th.
USDA appoints new members to food safety advisory committees
At the same time, the USDA has appointed 10 new members to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection, as well as one new member to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods for two-year terms.
The NACMPI advises the US Secretary of Agriculture on matters affecting federal and state inspection program activities, while the NACMCF provides impartial, scientific advice to federal food agencies.
UK FSA reveal future research priorities
In the UK, the Food Standards Agency has revealed it will concentrate research on four key areas moving forward, including:
- Food hypersensitivity and allergy
- Assuring food safety and standards
- Innovation in food regulation
- Future of food systems
The FSA will support this focus through building and extending collaboration with various stakeholders and other government departments, as well as engaging universities and research providers by commissioning research, co-designing new projects, and providing additional supports through fellowships and scholarships.