FDA Releases Improvement Plan Focuses on Modernizing Responses to Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
SPRING SILVER, Md., December 9, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The United States Food and Drug Administration has a long-standing commitment to strengthening food safety and better protecting consumers, as part of its public health agenda. Today, we are taking an important step to strengthen this commitment with the publication of the Foodborne Epidemic Response Improvement Plan. This plan is designed to help the FDA and its partners improve the speed, efficiency, coordination and communication of food-borne outbreak investigations. We are convinced that the actions described in this plan will in turn translate into activities focused on improving epidemic prevention.
As part of our work to implement the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and our New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, we worked with public and private sector experts to gain insight into additional means to strengthen the agency’s response to epidemics. The contribution of the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state health officials, experts from the The industry and consumers in the event of a food-borne outbreak, as well as input from FDA management and staff, have been critical in developing our new improvement plan.
The agency also has a contract with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to assess the FDA’s ability to support, join, or conduct multi-state outbreak investigations and provide recommendations in an independent report, which we are also releasing today. This report played an important role in shaping our new plan.
The Foodborne Epidemic Response Improvement Plan focuses on four specific priority areas where improvements will have the greatest impact on foodborne outbreaks.
- Technology-enabled product tracing – Engage in smarter ways to scan and regularly receive the information needed to streamline the tracing process, which are the steps we use to identify the source of contaminated food during investigations. These tactics include obtaining more complete voluntarily provided purchase data for consumers to better specify critical trace information, to facilitate and expedite the way the FDA receives the data, and to employ analytical methods. and more advanced IT approaches. We will work to harmonize our efforts with our federal, state, local and territorial counterparts, as well as with industry and others involved in traceback investigations.
- Root Cause Investigations (RCI) – Systematize, accelerate and share FDA ROIs. The plan focuses on adapting and strengthening protocols and procedures to perform timely RCIs of foodborne illness outbreaks, standardize the criteria for the production of FDA RCI reports, and expedite the publication of results. industry and public surveys.
- Strengthen the analysis and dissemination of data on epidemics – Work with the CDC, USDA FSIS and other partners to identify recurrent, emerging and persistent strains of pathogens. Specifically, we will facilitate improved data sharing with the CDC as well as other regulatory partners to further increase the transparency of outbreak investigations, increase public confidence in the results, and facilitate better collaboration on investigative activities.
- Operational improvements – Use FDA food program performance metrics to better assess the timeliness and effectiveness of outbreak investigation and regulatory activities. The FDA is committed to using performance and outcome measures to assess the progress of this improvement plan by notifying stakeholders, posting updates on FDA.gov, and through a public webinar at in early 2022 to discuss how regulatory partners, industry and others can work together to achieve these goals. goals.
We know that the 21st century has brought new challenges in identifying, investigating and controlling foodborne disease outbreaks, but it has also brought new tools to meet those challenges. We also recognize that the American food system today is large and decentralized, with a wide array of products widely distributed, to which we must adapt in order to ensure the safety of those products. That is why we are taking action as part of this improvement plan to evolve our outbreak investigations to meet modern needs using the most modern tools available. Our investigations must be faster, more streamlined and more efficient to identify, locate and eliminate contaminated food from the market and identify the root causes of the food system in order to avoid similar epidemics in the future.
Our improvement plan sets out a clear path to achieve these important goals. We will continue to do all we can to protect consumers from unsafe food. Adding the Epidemic Response Improvement Plan to our arsenal, which includes FSMA and the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, will ultimately prevent disease and save lives; and that’s what this job is all about for us.
Media contact: Veronika pfaeffle, 301-310-2576
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The FDA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and safety of drugs, vaccines, and other biologicals for human and veterinary use, as well as medical devices. . The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our country’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that emit electronic radiation, and the regulation of tobacco products.
SOURCE US Food and Drug Administration