FSMA update: International capacity building plan announced

A plan to prevent food safety issues abroad before the products reach the U.S. was unveiled today.

The international food safety capacity building plan “provides a strategic framework for FDA’s international food safety capacity-building activities,” according to a statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

Under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA was granted more power to ensure imported foods adhere to the same standards as domestic products. For example, food importers must create risk-based foreign supplier verification programs, which will provide documentation showing importers are managing food safety throughout their supply chain.

FSMA’s goal is to make U.S. food safety more preventive rather than reactive.

Additionally, the plan outlines how FDA can assist foreign governments and food producers in expanding their regulatory, scientific and technical capabilities to enhance food safety, according to the plan’s executive summary. It also includes creating mechanisms for secure electronic data sharing, mutually recognizing inspection reports, training foreign officials on U.S. food requirements, evaluating method harmonization under the Codex Alimentarius, outlining responsibilities and streamlining lab techniques.

Overall, the plan has four goals:

  • “Ensure efficiency across the Foods and Veterinary Medicine (FVM) program.”
  • “Increase effectiveness through evidence-based decision making.”
  • “Support the exchange of information between FDA and foreign government agencies or other entities.”
  • “Enhance technical assistance and capacity building in food safety.”

The plan is the most recent development in FSMA’s implementation and follows the publication of the act’s preventive control rule and produce rule, which currently are in their comment periods.

International cooperation is becoming increasingly important as the food chain becomes more globalized. Imports into the U.S. have dramatically increased from roughly 4.4 million import lines in 2002 to approximately 8.6 million in 2010. By 2011, about 15 percent of all food consumed in the U.S. was imported, according to the plan.

For more Neogen blog posts on FSMA, click here.

To read the full international capacity building plan, click here.

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