August – Food Safety News and Industry Round-up

Although August typically represents a quiet month in the last throes of summer, this year it marked a significant moment as the first FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification warning letter was issued.

The FDA reached headlines again as it faces a second lawsuit relating to FSMA, US exports are set to improve in multiple sectors, European Scientists published an open letter for producing food more sustainably, a report on African Swine Fever in Asia, and more are chronicled in this month’s industry round-up.

The video is also accompanied with a transcript and sources for more detailed reading.

FDA Updates

  • FDA issue first FSVP warning letter

The FDA issued the first warning letter under the FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Program to a Florida-based importer of tahini which was manufactured in Israel. It follows a recall after four illnesses were reported and is a watershed moment as it is the first compliance letter issued following 483 observations that were made before on other issues.

Under the decision, if the issue is not rectified within 15 working days, the FDA may implement Import Alert #99-41 which gives it authority to detain all goods imported by the company that the letter was issued to.

More information

Read the source material

  • Lawsuit seeks to force FDA to establish food testing program

A suit was filed against the FDA by the Center for Food  Safety and Safety for Environmental Health for its failure to put into law final regulations and actions dictated under FSMA for a program to detect and address foodborne illness outbreaks with more accredited laboratories and to provide a database for these accredited labs.

This follows an existing lawsuit from both Centers which we included in our June industry round-up update earlier in the year.

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More information


US/EU beef trade set to improve

A deal signed between the US and EU on August 2nd means that the US will be in a position to almost triple its annual duty-free exports of non-hormone beef to the EU over the course of the next 7 years, from its current 13,000 to 35,000 metric tons annually.

The deal will go into effect following ratification from the European Parliament later this year.

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US exports to China may double by 2024

Elsewhere, US cheese exports to China are soaring having grown by 672% during the last 15 years and are expected to double again between now and 2024 according to the U.S. Dairy Export council.

China is now the world’s sixth-largest importer of cheese and the US remains its largest exporter having exported just under 350 thousand metric tons in 2018.

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FSANZ starts food safety standards review

First reported back in May of this year, Food Standards Australia New Zealand have started a review of standards beginning with management tools for foodservice and retail.

It will be the first time the standards have been reviewed since their development in 2000.

Preparation of the draft food regulation is expected by the end of October and following public comments, could become registered as legislation by May, 2020.

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More information

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African Swine Fever cull in Asia reaches five million

A report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that the number of pigs who have died either directly from African Swine Fever or from being culled due to spread of the disease has risen to almost 5 million since the disease was first identified last August.

As there is no commercially available vaccine, preventative measures remain focused on limiting the spread of disease at border points.

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USDA issues France with on-suite equivalent verification for veal, pork and ready-to-eat meats

France received an on-site equivalence verification from the USDA earlier this month. This reasserts that France’s food safety inspection system meets equivalent requirements to those of the US and was issued after auditors visited French laboratories, cold storage units, and swine and veal slaughter and processing facilities.

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European scientists call for CRISPR gene editing rethink to improve the production of sustainable food

126 research institutes have come together and signed an open statement calling for the European Union to allow gene editing with CRISPR to help improve the production of sustainable food.

The call comes on the anniversary of the decision by the European Court of Justice that plants obtained by mutagenesis are not exempt from the EU GMO Directive.

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