Key Scientific Impacts of New US Food Safety Legislation

Posted by Josette Dunn on 22nd December 2010

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has commended US Congress for passage of landmark food safety legislation, which represents the largest changes in the country’s food safety laws in more than 70 years.
“This is a critical moment when it comes to the safety of the food we eat every day, because it puts science at the forefront of public policy,” said IFT President Bob Gravani, PhD. “This legislation will be a platform to build on that ensures the consuming public continues to have safe, nutritious and healthy food.”

Key Aspects of the Legislation

The legislation has a variety of new changes that will improve the safety of the food system from farm to fork. Four elements of this legislation are critical to protecting the food supply for generations to come:

* Product Tracing-The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be required to establish a comprehensive product tracing system to track the movement of food products effectively from farm to point of sale or service. As IFT pointed out in a report issued to the FDA, a product tracing system would make it possible to identify the source of foodborne illness outbreaks earlier as well as contain the outbreak faster.

* Performance Standards-In order to continually reduce the risk of contaminants in foods, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will identify and determine the most significant foodborne contaminants and develop science-based guidance to assist food producers. As a result, action levels (performance standards) will be set in place to encourage the food industry to strive toward a safer food supply.

* Third Party Certification-Designated imported foods will now need to be certified by a third party with expertise in food safety and under the oversight of the FDA. This will enable the FDA to maximize resources and increase the number of product inspections to better ensure the safety of imported foods.

* Preventive Control Plans-Food manufacturing facilities will be required to develop and implement written plans based upon science that evaluate hazards that could affect the safety of food; identify and implement preventive controls; monitor the performance of these controls; and maintain records of such monitoring.

“This bill covers a wide range of food safety initiatives that will ultimately benefit consumers,” said Gravani.