History was made in October 2020 as the United Nation’s World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Outside of a thoroughly well-deserved commendation the wider industry saw multiple other points of note with the release of SQF Edition 9, updates from the BRCGS on audit options, and the FDA seeking closer alignment for certain FSMA rules with third-party standards.
Each of these, as well as much more from the EU, UK, USA, and Mexico, are detailed below with sources for further reading:
SQF Edition 9 Released
SQFI have formally released Code Edition 9 with audits due to begin from May 24th, 2021.
Safefood 360° users will be able to use the platform to comply with the requirements of Edition 9 in advance of the go-live date.
UN World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize
The World Food Programme was selected as the 101st winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Recognized as the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security, in 2019 the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries and serves as a crucial instrument in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to eradicating hunger.
Audit options for sites under restrictions
The BRCGS have released additional clarity on audit options for sites under restrictions.
Having established an order of preference for these options, the BRCGS have indicated that the first should be sought in all cases where possible before choices can be reviewed.
The new audit structure is:
- Announced, Unannounced, and Blended Audit: Available for sites that can host an onsite audit, with blended being applicable for existing accredited sites only. These options are all GFSI benchmarked.
- Certificate Extension (existing sites): Available for sites that cannot host an onsite audit due to Covid-19 restrictions when an audit is due. This option is also GFSI benchmarked.
- Remote audit: Available for sites where the certificate is either expiring or already expired and the audit is required by a customer or brand. This option is not GFSI benchmarked but is fully accredited and may have a proviso that a full onsite audit is expected within 12 months.
EU rules in favor of terminology for plant-based foods
The European Parliament has dismissed claims which would have seen plant-based foods unable to use meat-related terms such as ‘burger’ and ‘sausages’.
The ruling has not extended to terms that draw a comparison with dairy products such as cheese and reinforces an earlier ruling in 2017 which has already revoked the use of the word ‘milk’ for use in dairy-alternative products.
Pilot Program to evaluate third-party Food Safety Standards launched
The FDA has also launched a voluntary program to evaluate aligning elements of FSMA with private third-party food safety audit standards.
As part of its New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, this call will assess up to five standards for alignment with the Preventive Controls for Human Food and the Produce Safety rules.
The pilot intends to conclude on October 26th, 2021, and interested owners of standards can find more information to apply on the federal register.
Comments sought for labeling of Cultured Seafood Cells
The FDA has opened a call for information in order to assist it in properly labeling foods made with cultured seafood cells.
Foods using the technique are currently in development and as they may soon enter the marketplace, the FDA is seeking clarification on the appropriate actions to ensure they are labeled correctly.
The comment period is open until March 8, 2021.
US and Mexico enhance food safety partnership
On October 5th the FDA in collaboration with its regulatory counterparts in Mexico issued a statement of intent to expand an already existing arrangement for the FDA to regulate all human food, expanding from an emphasis on fresh produce.
The new agreement will see increased partnership on mutual areas of interest such as prevention, outbreak response, regulatory laboratory collaboration, and outreach and training between the FDA, the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), and the National Service of Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA).
This work builds upon the release of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety and seeks to drive stronger links between the US and Mexico which accounts for roughly one-third of all food imported to the US, as well as 60% of its produce.
UK beef exports to U.S. resume after more than 20 years
The first exports of UK beef to the U.S. occurred at the end of September, following a 20-year hiatus.
The shipment from Northern Ireland is the first export since trade was halted in 1998 following the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy/Mad Cow Disease.
The move follows from the agreement of equivalent of standards signed between the US and UK in March.
UK FSA readies food businesses for the launch of Natasha’s Law
The UK Food Standards Agency has launched a campaign to notify businesses about the upcoming allergen labeling changes required by Natasha’s Law, which is due to come into effect from October 1st, 2021.
The allergen labeling requirements apply to food which is prepacked for direct sale and will require the food in question to have a label clearly showing the name of the food and a full ingredients list with allergens emphasized in bold if present in the food.
EU to investigate the future of food safety
A three-year project to improve the European food safety system has been announced by the EU involving 23 organizations from twelve member states.
Due to commence in 2021 the project will cost €3 million and look to standardize how partners share and access resources, data, knowledge, and synchronize strategies.
Provisionally called ‘FOODSAFETY4EU’ the project will review digital technologies and communication methods to support authorities, agencies, policymakers, civil societies, and scientific organizations to strengthen a unified EU approach to risk assessment and communication.
EFSA set new PFAS consumption limits
The European Food Safety Authority has defined a new consumption threshold for perfluoroalkyls (PFAS), a man-made chemical used in the food industry for its ability to repel oil, grease, and water.
The new limit has been set at 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight per week and centers on four PFAS, specifically perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluorononanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid.
These PFAs can potentially enter food through packaging, processing equipment, or contaminated soil or water used to grow the food itself or animal feed and water.