August 1, 2014

FDA’s New Priorities for Food and Veterinary Medicine

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released its Final Strategic Plan for 2012 to 2016 to make sure the food supply in this country is protected based on scientific standards. Overall, the government wants to make sure that food for animals and humans is “safe and secure”, that animal drugs are safe and effective, and that food labels are reliable, with useful information.

The plan lays out seven main goals to achieve these results. They are:

  • Establish science-based preventive control standards across the farm-to-table continuum. This should protect food and feed supplies from contamination, and implement and improve preventive control standards.
  • Achieve high rates of compliance with preventive controls standards in the US and internationally. The supply chain should be inspected so standards are met, and collaboration among various agencies should be improved.
  • Strengthen scientific leadership to support decision making. Expert knowledge should be shared among agencies, and centralized planning is critical.
  • Provide accurate and useful information so consumers can choose a healthier diet. The Nutrition Facts label on food products will be updated, menu and vending machine labeling regulations will be implemented, and consumer access to information will be improved.
  • Encourage food product reformulation and safe production of dietary supplements. These objectives include reducing the sodium content in the food supply, and reducing trans fat content in the food supply.
  • Improve detection of and response to foodborne illness outbreaks. Innovative technologies will be implemented. The Reportable Food Registry will be enhanced.
  • Advance animal drug safety and effectiveness. The judicious use of medically important antibiotics will be fostered.

Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods, said in the plan that “success in this environment requires a strategic plan to guide our hard work and keep us focused on the most important things we need to accomplish in order to fulfill our public health and consumer protection mandates.”

The trends that the program addresses includes new food technologies, the globalization of the food supply, and the fact that the American population is aging and therefore becoming more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. Emerging pathogens, intentional contamination of the food supply, and the animal drug industry are also a concern.

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