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FDA officials discussed their “work in progress” toward implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act at a public meeting hosted by the agency in Washington, D.C. April 23-24, 2015.

The agency is currently considering some new inspection ideas, they explained. For example, they may introduce an inspection system that would separate violations into major and minor, depending on the public health impact. Requirements for major violations would be more stringent, such as shorter response times and increased inspection frequency. The agency is also considering a two-step approach to inspections, beginning with a data check at a company’s corporate offices in advance of an individual facility inspection, they said.

(see more details in Food Chemical News).

Effective training will be an essential component of any successful implementation of FSMA regulations and it is encouraging to see the agency moving forward with several training initiatives. It is working with the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) — which is led by former CFSAN Director Robert Brackett — on a training curriculum for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). This is still at an early development stage. IFSH, which manages the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), is also developing training programs for preventive controls.

In another initiative, the agency is collaborating with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to create voluntary on-farm pre-assessments for use before the new FSMA produce rule is fully implemented.

“We appreciate FDA’s engagement with stakeholders by hosting today’s public meeting,” commented NASDA’s CEO Barbara Glenn. “While we fully support the development of a preventive food safety system, there is still more work needed to get this right,” she said.

“The successful implementation of these rules depends on active partner engagement and education of American farmers, prior to enforcement. We must strike a balance between enhancing public health and not driving American farmers away from growing the fruits and vegetables which are so vital to human health,” Glenn said.

It seems to me that a similar balance is needed for all seven proposed FSMA rules.

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