The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) represents the most sweeping reform of American food safety law in more than seven decades. The FDA’s implementation of the FSMA “envisions an ‘integrated food safety system’ to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing the risk of illness attributed to food from facilities subject to preventive controls rule under the act.” The primary goal of FSMA is to make sure that food safety improves by shifting the focus from response to prevention. It will rely on agencies at all levels to assist.
It’s a great idea. But will it work?
Darin Detwiler (@DarinDetwiler) writes an opinion piece for Food Safety News. If you’re not familiar with the topic, this piece provides an excellent overview of key issues. Warning: it’s acronym heavy.
Whereas FSMA specifically references almost all of the other 14 relevant federal cabinet-level food safety agencies such as the USDA, the Commerce Department, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, and relevant sub-agencies such as CDC, the Act places FDA in a position where the agency must employ an integrated approach that also depends on state, university, tribal, and territorial resources.
One problem with any integration is that the preventive efforts of every agency must be sustainable. Some states debate FSMA’s reliance on state-level inspections because of resource limits — perhaps one of the biggest challenges for an integrated food safety system.
About the need for change:
I talk with victims or their families who have seen just how devastating foodborne illnesses can be. They often tell me that they never thought that something like this could happen in America, let alone to them. Their worst fears came about due to violations along the way from the farm to fork. ALL of us, including restaurants and local governments, play a role in making sure that the family meal ordered at a restaurant or served at home does not come with a side of fear or regret.