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FDA in Brief

FDA In Brief: As Consumers Order More Meals and Groceries Online, FDA Plans Public Meeting to Address Food Safety Risks

For Immediate Release:

The following quote is attributed to Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for the FDA to help ensure that foods ordered online and delivered directly to consumers are safe to eat and not at risk of contamination. We said in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint that we would hold a summit to address the potential safety vulnerabilities of these foods, especially during the critical “last mile” of delivery.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. The FDA recently announced that we will hold a virtual public meeting on Oct. 19-21 entitled The FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety Summit on E-Commerce: Ensuring the Safety of Foods Ordered Online and Delivered Directly to Consumers . This is a critical first step in a broader effort to address the safety of foods as new business models emerge. Addressing this issue is especially important now because so many of us are getting our food this way, whether we’re looking for convenience or just staying at home more often.

Over the years, consumers have increasingly been ordering their food online, whether it’s from a grocery store, a restaurant, or another kind of retail establishment. However, during the pandemic the number of Americans ordering food for delivery has skyrocketed, according to reports of consumer spending. As the food system continues to rapidly change, including how foods are produced and delivered, meetings like this will help the FDA keep pace with that change and fulfill our mission to protect public health.”

Additional Information

  • On Oct. 19-21, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet with members of the food industry, regulatory counterparts at all levels of government, consumers, and others to enhance our understanding of how human and animal foods are sold through e-commerce business models and to identify ways to control potential food safety risks. There is also an opportunity to comment through the Federal Register. The FDA will use the information received to decide on what actions may be needed to further protect consumers.
  • In April 2019, the FDA announced the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative to build on what has been achieved through implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The initiative represents a new approach to food safety, leveraging technology and other tools to create a safer and more digital, traceable, food system.
  • In July 2020, the FDA released the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint that outlines the approach the agency will take over the next decade in four priority areas, called core elements. One of these core elements is New Business Models and Retail Modernization, which includes the goal of convening the forthcoming summit.
  • As stated in the blueprint, the FDA is looking to address how to protect foods from contamination as new business models emerge and change to meet the needs of the modern consumer. The evolution of how food gets from farm to table continues with the emergence of e-commerce and new delivery models. These new models include online shopping for meals and groceries.

Related Information



The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.


Veronika Pfaeffle

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