Emphasising on embracing innovation, US FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and deputy commissioner Frank Yiannas, in a recently released press note, have highlighted the new steps to strengthen FDA’s food safety programme for 2020 and beyond. The US President Donald Trump’s just-out 2020 Budget includes new resources to advance the agency’s food safety programme, and expand food safety monitoring.
Gottlieb and Yiannas said, “Thanks to innovations in technology and the new requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), we now have more opportunities to strengthen public health and bring innovative food products to consumers than perhaps at any other time in our history. But our ability to fulfill these responsibilities becomes more challenging every year with increased globalisation, advances in science and technology, and shifts in consumer expectations that drive change throughout the food system. We must continue to embrace innovation across the food safety system to make sure we secure our public health mission.”
They added, “That’s why as part of the President’s 2020 Budget, we’ve proposed new funding across multiple aspects of our food safety system. We must invest to prevent problems from happening by solidifying the agency’s tools under FSMA. We must also embrace new innovations to improve our ability to secure the food supply chain and engage in more effective tracking and tracing of food from farm to fork. This includes continuing to improve our capabilities for both detecting and responding to food contamination when preventive measures alone are insufficient.”
They pointed out, “The funds we’re requesting for food safety represent the FDA’s commitment to the promises we’ve made to help keep people and animals safe from contaminated food, and our vision of a future in which both human and animal health is protected and strengthened by new and emerging technologies that will create a more digital, traceable, diverse, and safer food system.”
With regard to food safety, they said, “The work under FSMA is just one part of our food safety net. We also need to invest in and further modernise our ability to detect and respond to problems in the food supply. For Fiscal Year 2017, our Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition responded to 794 recall events due to issues such as microbial contamination and undeclared allergens and oversaw the recall of 3,609 products, more than any other FDA centre.”
Gottlieb and Yiannas explained, “We know that additional resources are required to ensure that contaminated food is detected and removed from the marketplace as quickly as possible, using the most modern technologies. For example, Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) has been a game changer for the way we find and address microbial contamination in foods. This technology has made it easier determine the source of contaminated food associated with human illness, and to better identify foodborne outbreaks that previously would have gone undetected. WGS continues to be put into widespread use as the technology itself becomes more accessible, affordable, and much less bulky. We need to expand our use of these modern tools.”