Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, taking a new approach to create a safer, more digital, and traceable food system.
That approach includes enhancing our response to foodborne outbreaks, with a focus on using what we learn to prevent future outbreaks. To that end, we have developed the Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan.
To inform the development of the improvement plan, we arranged for an objective assessment of the FDA’s structural and functional capacity to support, participate in, or lead multistate foodborne illness outbreak investigation activities.
This independent report, entitled “An Independent Review of FDA’s Foodborne Outbreak Response Processes,” was performed under contract with the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, and led by Dr. Craig Hedberg. It is based on interviews with senior officials in the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state health officials, and industry and consumer foodborne outbreak experts. The report includes Dr. Hedberg’s analysis of FDA’s current approach to outbreak response as well as a series of recommendations.
The report played an instrumental role in the development of the improvement plan, which is focused solely on outbreaks associated with human food. We also believe that publication of this independent report, along with the improvement plan, can play an important role in informing others outside the FDA about the agency’s current and future approach to further strengthening outbreak response.