March 2020 Food Safety News and Industry Round-up
Global headlines this month have been dominated by the spread and effects of Covid-19.
Causing issues beyond public health, the consequences of the Coronavirus have permeated into almost all facets of society and are still very much ongoing.
With many food businesses facing unprecedented levels of demand for their products while faced with the new challenges in production, and some being forced to remote work while maintaining oversight and supplier collaboration, Safefood 360° are available to help businesses overcome these barriers while creating a safer environment for employees and customers alike.
Below is a summary of some of the main talking points of the Coronavirus that will likely have a direct impact on food businesses globally and other stories from around the world that may have been overlooked due to the priority of the ongoing pandemic.
The FDA will not enforce requirements to conduct on-site audits of food suppliers in certain circumstances if other supplier verification methods are used.
The guidance was issued in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic and applies to three regulations:
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food (21 CFR part 117) (“part 117”) .
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals (21 CFR part 507) (“part 507”).
- Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals (21 CFR part 1 subpart L) (“FSVP regulation”).
FDA extends adverse reporting deadlines
The FDA also eased to move pressure on dietary supplement companies allowing them to store adverse reports and submit them once the Coronavirus solution resolves.
Anticipating a high level of non-essential staff not being present within factories, the exemption eskews the standard deadline to submit reports within 15 days.
FDA outline Leafy Greens plan
Earlier in the month the FDA also released an action plan intended to help advance the safety of leafy greens.
A source of many recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses (Read: Why leafy green recalls keep occurring and what can be done about it?), the new plan addresses FDA knowledge gaps and additional measures to ensure the Produce Safety Rule of FSMA is adhered to.
BRCGS permit self-assessment for re-audits.
The BRCGS announced that that is permitting companies seeking re-audits to complete a self-assessment ‘internal audit’ on control processes.
The measure has been made in response to global travel restrictions, however, it has also recommended that certification bodies utilize their global auditor poool to circumvent this where possible.
SQFI Extend Certifications
The SQFI has deferred certification due to the extenuating global circumstances.
This policy aligns with the GFSI position towards deferring certifications and the IAF Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting ABs, CABs, and Certified Organizations.
At the same time, the SQF will also allow a one-time 6-month extension and require Certification Bodies to conduct a risk assessment to understand and determine if there is a need to extend the certificate.
USDA announces ASF control measures
The US Department of Agriculture announced a series of measures intended to “control and eradicate” African Swine Fever should the virus ever be detected in the country.
These measures include:
- Declaring an “extraordinary emergency” which appoints the USDA leader of a coordinated national approach and ensuring the availability of funding and resources which are required for the response
- Prohibiting all movement of swine for 72 hours intending to restoring movement on a regionalized basis
- Depopulation of infected and exposed animals to be conducted in line with approved methods from the American Veterinary Medical Association that are appropriate for the affected premises
- Working with producers to ensure they have effective herd plans for carcass disposal.
FSANZ release recall figures for 2019
Food Standards Australia New Zealand reported that undeclared allergens were the main source of recalls in Australia in 2019, totaling 32 of the 87 recalls issued during the year.
Close behind it, was microbial contamination which was the source of 30 recalls.
The total number of recalls for both figures had fallen from 2018’s year-on-year and total recalls overall were down from 100 to 87.
US/UK beef trade deal moves closer to reality
A trade deal between the US and UK for beef has moved closer to reality after both nation’s authorities have agreed to an equivalence of standards on disease control methods.
The agreement follows the memorandum of understanding signed between the North American Meat Institute and the British Meat Processors Association last month.
More on US/UK memorandum of understanding
UK beef exports benefit from strong start to 2020
Existing markets also proved lucrative to UK beef exports, which grew almost 20% in year-on-year growth with January, 2019, a significant increase from the growth recorded in December’s year-on-year figures, which were 5.
The strength in exports was paralleled by a decrease in the number of beef imports to the UK, which fell 14% year-on-year, reflecting a total market value of £72.7m.
UK FSA tightens control on raw drinking milk production
In the UK, the Food Standards Agency has issued a guidance document on raw milk to address it’s increasing popularity and rising sales.
The document details the legal requirements of food safety and hygiene legislation relevant to the production and distribution of raw drinking milk and comes into effect from April 1st, 2020.
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