We have posted before about the Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA held a public hearing last week to take input on the implementation of the new food safety law.
FDA was seeking information on preventive controls used by facilities to identify and address hazards associated with specific types of food and specific processes.
After an intro from several FDA officials, the program included several breakout listening sessions. One covered FDA guidance documents for industry on preventive controls. FDA has recognized that it cannot provide a guidance document for each type of food or each type of food facility. Another breakout session focused on the relationship between CGMPs and the preventive controls. A third was on Product Testing and Environmental Monitoring.
The session concluded with comments from stakeholders, including representatives of consumer groups, the food and feed industries, state regulatory officials, and small business groups. Among those weighing in were the American Frozen Food Institute and the American Feed Industry Association. One of the key requests from industry was the need for flexibility and the risks of too-rigid guidance to prevent contamination. One size does not fit all, and each industry may be in the best position to figure out the specific tools they need. Indeed, different facilities within an industry may need to employ different systems to prevent food safety hazards. Industry also called for FDA to recognize robust third-party food safety certification programs that are already in place in some food areas.
Self-appointed consumer groups, on the other hand, called for extensive and detailed regulations of testing, with test protocols to be submitted to FDA in advance and approved.