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Posts tagged ‘Preventive Controls’

FDA seeks new process to check imports

Food destined for the U.S. would be inspected abroad and importers would be held more accountable for ensuring its safety, under new rules proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

The US government is seeking to outsource work to companies that already have food-sourcing operations overseas. Under the rules proposed in late July, food importers would need to ensure that their foreign suppliers comply with FDA safety rules or that local regulations meet U.S. requirements. The measures also outline accreditation procedures for third-party auditors who would inspect food suppliers.

The FDA portrays the changes as a more effective method of targeting the sources of contaminated foods rather than merely responding after people get sick.

“We will continue to check food at our borders,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a statement on the agency’s website.

“However, rather than relying almost entirely on FDA’s investigators at the ports to detect and respond to food safety problems, importers would – for the first time – be held accountable for verifying, in a manner transparent to FDA, that the food they import is safe.”

At the same time, Americans continue to perceive domestically sourced foods as safer than imports, says Marianne Rowden, president and chief executive of the American Association of Exporters & Importers, a trade group that counts several large importers such as Target and Mondelez International as members. (That perception gap remains, Rowden notes, even after several illness outbreaks tied to U.S.-grown produce.)

What’s less clear, according to Rowden, is how smaller players without the infrastructure and supply-chain expertise of major food importers will comply with the law. She predicts “critiques around the edges of some technical aspects” but no major industry backlash against the regulations.

“The food companies are very conscious about their brands,” she says. “We look at this as brand protection, rather than just new regulation.”

To read the full article by Justin Bachman, click here.

To find out more about the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) and how it affects US importers, click here.

Foreign Supplier Verification Programs summary released, new FSMA webinars announced

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is releasing new resources to help the global fresh produce industry understand the U.S. government’s latest proposed rules to implement the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The association announces plans for bilingual produce-specific webinars explaining the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposals for Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) and Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors, released by the agency on July 26. PMA also announces release of English and Spanish summaries of the FSVP proposed rule.

The FSVP proposed rule summaries are tailored for the global fresh produce industry, as the proposed rule would extend U.S. food safety standards to imported foods. English and Spanish summaries of the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors proposed rule will follow soon.

PMA will partner with Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas and Western Growers to host an English-language webinar covering the two newly proposed rules on Thursday, Aug. 29, from 3-4:30 p.m. EST.

That webinar will feature FDA experts Brian Pendleton, J.D., and Charlotte Christin, J.D., both FDA senior policy advisors who will explain the proposed rules and then answer participants’ questions. PMA will also host a Spanish-language webinar covering the proposed rules on Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 3-4 p.m. EST. Both webinars are free; registration is now open for the English webinar, and will open soon for the Spanish webinar.

“The global reality of today’s fresh produce supply chain is reflected in these latest proposed rules,” said PMA Chief Science & Technology Officer Bob Whitaker. “PMA is here to help all of our members, inside and outside the U.S., understand FSMA’s implications on our global industry.”

PMA’s latest summaries and webinars are designed for:

  • U.S.-based fresh produce importers, who would be responsible for implementing the FSVP rule;
  • non-U.S. fresh produce suppliers to U.S. importers, who would be responsible for working with importers to meet FSVP requirements;
  • fresh produce buyers and sellers who utilize or participate in third-party audits; and
  • auditors or certifiers, who would be subject to the third-party audit rule

Access FSVP proposed rule summaries and additional PMA resources, by visiting the “What’s New” section of PMA’s online FSMA Resource Center.

Center for Produce Safety Research Findings Now Online

New resources translating current research from the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) into practical applications for individual food safety programs are now online and openly available to all industry members. These tools distill the 16 CPS-funded research programs discussed at the 2013 Center for Produce Safety Produce Research Symposium held June 25-26 and the 2013 Fresh Connections: Food Safety Highlights event that followed June 27, both at the Wegmans Conference Center in Rochester, N.Y.

“Translating science-based research on produce safety into real-world application for industry members’ own food safety programs is what the CPS, its annual symposium and these online tools are all about,” said Dr. Bob Whitaker, Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Chief Science & Technology Officer. “By making this information widely available in everyday language, we are able to more effectively leverage data to improve food safety programs and close gaps in industry’s food safety efforts.”

Online tools available at PMA.com include:

  • 2013 CPS Symposium: 10 Lessons Learned – an insider’s guide on the symposium’s key findings authored by Dr. Whitaker and PMA Vice President of Food Safety & Technology Dr. Jim Gorny.
  • 2013 Fresh Connections: Food Safety Highlights presentations – eight recorded PowerPoint presentations led by Drs. Whitaker and Gorny. In addition to outlining the basics behind current CPS data, these presentations also look at some of the research’s implications relative to the Food Safety Modernization Act and current pending proposed rules.

Many of the key lessons noted in the guide and presentations will also be the subject of a series of podcasts PMA will be adding to its resource library over the next few months. The podcasts will feature Drs. Whitaker and Gorny along with PMA Director Food Safety & Technology Johnna Hepner and will be available through www.pma.com. The full technical reports for the 16 research programs presented during the 2013 CPS Produce Research Symposium can be found on the CPS website at www.cps@ucdavis.edu

Increasing the awareness of fresh produce safety is ongoing.

The New South Wales parliamentary Inquiry into the Management of Domestic Wastewater  suggests there had been either a “negligent disregard” for human health or a lack of awareness about the dangers of using raw sewage.

The final report found that untreated effluent is being used on some farms and market gardens as a form of fertiliser and that a small number of farmers deliberately use waste on their crops, additionally it also suggests that many sewage systems on small farms are failing.

Camden MP Chris Patterson, who chaired the inquiry, said most farmers are doing the right thing. “That would be very minimal if that is occurring,” he said.

“It did find out there’s a need for greater education amongst market gardens potentially in non-English backgrounds.”

To increase the awareness of fresh produce safety, FPS A&NZ is looking for support to provide a coordinated approach to research and outreach for industry-identified fresh produce safety issues and challenges in Australia and New Zealand. 

This will be a ‘go-to’ source for all information and news related to food safety and  act as an important interface for information between regulatory bodies and the industry at all parts of the value chain.

The industry has come a long way to bring about greater collaboration on the critical issue of food safety in the fresh produce industry, however work in this area must be ongoing to ensure the health and safety of the consumer and to build on the strengths of the fresh produce industry.

For more information regarding the actions FPS A&NZ is taking to address food safety issues and challenges and how you can be involved contact:
info@freshproducesafety-anz.com

‘What it takes to instill a food safety culture in your business’ new presentation

Food Safety in our industry is a consumer-right, requiring a collaborative effort from all sectors of the industry. Dr Douglas Powell, Professor of food safety at Kansas State University was at PMA Fresh Connections 2013 Conference last week to challenge businesses not to rely on regulation, but to rely on their staff to deliver safe food.

Read more

Irradiation of Tomatoes and Capsicums Approved by FSANZ.

Tomatoes and capsicums have recently been added to the list of produce permitted to receive irradiation as a phytosanitary measure by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

This change comes following application by DAFF Queensland, in association with the New Zealand Fresh Produce Importers Association (NZFPIA), who requested the variation be made to Standard 1.5.3.

In the past, chemicals such as dimethoate and/or fenthion have primarily been used as the phytosanitary measures however these chemicals have been restricted for this purpose and other options need to be considered. Permitting irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums will allow the increase of domestic and international trade due to the rigorous requirements in place for quarantine purposes against fruit fly.

FSANZ has reviewed the application and the scientific evidence on the safety of irradiated tomatoes and capsicums as well as the effect irradiation has on their nutritional composition. The approval has been submitted to the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) and awaits their decision.

For more information about this approval, go to the FSANZ website.

Did you know food safety and crisis management guidelines were already available in Australia?

Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) has made available several guidelines in both food safety and crisis management over the past few years which can help you manage and maintain healthy and safe food.

Horticulture Industry Crisis Management Guidelines (2010) were created to assist members of the Australian horticulture industry in responding to a crisis or uncontained situation on an individual company level, specific industry level or encompass a cross section of the horticulture industry.

They provide a self-assessment tool to determine preparedness to manage an uncontained situation for Peak Industry Bodies. This includes contingency planning and management of the crisis such as: recall protocols, media responses, customer and consumer inquiries and emergency quality assurance should all be included in the of the crisis.

It should be noted that the HAL Crisis Reference Group is in name only. HAL is not a Peak Industry Body and ultimate responsibility for industry response falls to the appropriate commercial entity or industry.
Download a copy of the Crisis Management Guidelines here (PDF, 693 KB).

A presentation on crisis management risk assessment, made available by Mr Richard Bennett, Product Integrity Manager, HAL.
Download a copy of the Crisis Management Risk Assessment Presentation here (PDF, 292 KB).

Freshcare in conjunction with the Quality Management Working Group have also provided a guide to Minimising the risk of microbes on fresh produce (2006).
Download a copy of Minimising the risk of microbial contamination of fresh produce (PDF 81 KB).