Backgrounder: FDA Retail Food Safety Initiative
The Food and Drug Administration is initiating a Retail Food Safety Initiative as part of its prevention-based, farm-to-table food safety strategy to reduce foodborne illness. The FDA actions in this initiative are supported by a recently-released 10-year study of more than 800 retail food establishments to determine compliance with five key risk factors in nine types of retail operations. FDA will continue to partner with the retail food industry; state, local and tribal authorities; and other government agencies through this initiative.
Planned FDA Action Steps to Drive Improvement
- Strengthen active managerial controls at the retail level and ensure better compliance. Food safety is enhanced when managers assess their food safety systems, implement appropriate procedures and training, and actively monitor compliance with those systems to reduce risk in retail operations. In order to broaden the use of these tools throughout the industry, FDA will work with its partners to assess the effectiveness of various managerial control strategies, identifying and sharing best practices, and verifying their implementation by food retail facilities. FDA, working with the Conference for Food Protection, will also consider modifications to the FDA Food Code to promote best practices.
- Make the presence of certified food protection managers common practice. Data from the last two collection periods point to a correlation between the presence of a certified food protection manager and better food safety practices and behaviors. FDA will work with its partners to encourage and facilitate the development of effective training and certification for food handlers, addressing the challenges of providing training for a workforce with a high turnover rate and with various educational and cultural backgrounds. FDA, working with the Conference Food Protection, will consider modifications to the Food Code to expand the presence of certified food protection managers.
- Encourage widespread, uniform, and complete adoption of the FDA Food Code. FDA will work with the retail industry and state, local and tribal authorities to ensure that prevention-oriented, science-based food safety principles are used at the retail level. The Food Code sets standards for management and personnel, food operations and equipment and facilities.
- Create an enhanced local regulatory environment for retail food operations. FDA will:
- Promote wider implementation by state, local and tribal regulatory programs of the FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Programs Standards;
- Seek increased multi-year funding for the state, local and tribal programs as part of an integrated food safety system, and
- Develop programs to ensure universal participation by local regulators in consistent, high-quality training.
More than 3,000 state, local and tribal agencies have primary responsibility to regulate the more than 1 million food establishments in the United States. FDA assists the regulatory agencies and the retail industry through the Food Code, training; program evaluation and technical assistance. FDA also works with jurisdictions to encourage enrollment in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards, a comprehensive set of standards that provides a foundation for program self assessment and continuous improvement.