The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act was widely hailed as the biggest shake-up of US food safety law since the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, which was passed in the wake of a food scandal that killed 107 people, after they consumed a legally marketed toxic elixir.
Another deadly food scandal prompted the latest food safety overhaul – this time, the 2008-2009 salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products, which killed at least nine and made hundreds ill.
“Since President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on January 4, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made significant progress in developing proposed rules to implement the sweeping food safety reform law, publishing mandated reports, and taking important steps toward increasing overall food safety capacity in the United States,” the agency said in its one-year progress report.
Among highlights over the past year, the FDA said it has used its new authority to seize potentially contaminated food three times, issued guidance to the seafood industry on food safety hazards and to the dietary supplement industry regarding new dietary ingredients, and met the FSMA mandate for foreign food safety inspections.
In addition, the FDA said it was on track to meet domestic food facility inspection mandates specified by the new law. The agency and its State partners conducted more than 20,000 food facility inspections in the past year, and set definitions for high-risk and non-high-risk facilities.
Other actions carried out to date by the FDA as required under the FSMA include:
- Its launch in April of a more consumer-friendly recall search engine on the FDA website.
- Issuing an interim final rule requiring information on imported foods that have been refused entry to other countries.
- Forming an anti-smuggling strategy in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security to help identify and prevent smuggled foods from entering the United States.
- Releasing a fiscal 2012 fee schedule for food facility reinspections and for non-compliance with recall orders.
- Introduction of two product tracing pilot programs, to be carried out by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).