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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Guidance & Regulation

Fact Sheet: Food Protection Plan

For more than 100 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has protected the health of Americans by improving the safety of those components of the food supply the agency regulates. Today, the U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world. The Food Protection Plan outlines a strategy to strengthen an already safe food system. The plan reflects recent challenges and global changes, and it builds upon advances in science and technology to safeguard the nation’s food supply against unintentional and deliberate contamination. The Food Protection Plan provides a comprehensive and integrated strategy of prevention, intervention, and response.

The plan focuses FDA’s efforts to prevent problems before they start. It employs risk-based interventions to ensure preventive approaches are effective. And it provides for a rapid response when contaminated food or feed are detected, or when there is harm to humans or animals.Here are the main elements:
 

PREVENTION

Prevention is the keystone of an effective, proactive food defense and food safety plan. Preventive measures must be built in from the start of domestic and international food production processes. FDA will continue to work with industry, state, local, and foreign governments to further develop the tools and science needed to identify vulnerabilities and determine the most effective approaches.  The plan calls for:

  • increasing corporate responsibility to prevent food-borne illnesses
  • identifying food vulnerabilities and assess risks
  • expanding the understanding and use of effective mitigation measures
      

INTERVENTION

Targeted risk-based intervention involving domestic and imported products will provide the second layer of protection. The goal is to ensure that preventive approaches are implemented and that contaminated food is identified when preventive measures are not taken or fail.  The components of intervention are:

  • focus inspections and sampling based on risk
  • enhance risk-based surveillance
  • improve the detection of food system “signals” that indicate contamination 
      

RESPONSE

The plan bolsters FDA’s existing emergency response system. To shorten the period between detection and containment of a food-borne illness requires faster response activities and more effective communication to consumers, industry, and federal, state and international partners. To that end, FDA will:

  • improve immediate response
  • improve risk communications to the public, industry and other stakeholders

To meet the above goals, the FDA Food Protection Plan outlines specific actions and requested legislative authorities. The requested authorities and actions include:
 

   

   

Prevention

Action steps-

  • Meet with states and consumer groups to solicit their input on implementing preventive approaches to protect the food supply
  • Develop written food protection guidelines for industry to develop food protection plans for produce and other food products, and implement other measures to promote corporate responsibility
  • Analyze food import trend data and integrate it into a risk-based approach that focuses inspection resources on those imports that pose the greatest risk.
  • Improve FDA’s presence overseas 

Legislative proposals-

  • Allow FDA to require preventive controls against intentional adulteration by terrorists or criminals at points of high vulnerability in the food chain
  • Authorize FDA to issue additional preventive controls for high-risk foods
  • Require food facilities to renew their FDA registrations every two years, and allow FDA to modify the registration categories
     

  

Intervention

Action Steps-

  • Focus food and feed inspections and sampling based on risk
  • Train FDA and state investigators on new, technically complex and specialized food manufacturing processes, as determined by a risk-based needs assessment, and modern inspection strategies
  • Collaborate with foreign authorities to reduce potential risk of imported foods
  • Use advanced screening technology at the border

Legislative proposals-

  • Authorize FDA to accredit highly-qualified third parties for voluntary food inspections
  • Require new reinspection fee from facilities that fail to meet current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPS)
  • Empower FDA to require electronic import certificates for shipments of designated high-risk products
  • Require new Food and Animal Feed Export Certification Fee to improve the ability of U.S. firms to export their products
  • Authorize FDA to refuse admission of imported food if FDA inspection access is delayed, limited or denied

    

Response

Action Steps-

  • Enhance data collection, incident reporting and emergency response capabilities
  • Work with stakeholders to implement a more effective trace-back process, using technologies to rapidly and precisely track the origin and destination of contaminated foods, feed and ingredients
  • Work with communications and media experts to design and conduct consumer communications and behavior response studies
  • In  a food-related emergency, implement this communications plan, including using all relevant media and technologies available, to reach consumers, retailers, industry, public health officials and other stakeholders

Legislative proposals-

  • Empower FDA to issue a Mandatory Recall if voluntary recalls are not effective
  • Give FDA enhanced access to food records during emergencies