November 12, 2019

FDA to Launch “New Era of Smarter Food Safety”

Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas are announcing a “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” to help combat increasing cases of foodborne illness in this country. ┬áIt will incorporate elements and requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 with new and emerging technologies.

FDA to Launch "New Era of Smarter Food Safety"

This program will develop a “Blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” which will address digital technologies, traceability, and food business models. One of the tools the press release lauds as a success in this type of model is the GenomeTrakr Network, which helps with investigations into foodborne outbreaks.

One of the most important areas of foodborne illness investigation is traceability. Unless a contaminated food can be identified and then traced back to its source, recalls cannot be issued and an outbreak may continue for weeks or months longer than it would have if the source was found, named, and the information released to the public.

Most companies use a paper based system of record-keeping, which can be unreliable. Other industries use digital tracking to follow delivery of packaged goods, for example. Distributed ledgers, sensors, and artificial intelligence may be incorporated into traceback activities to help speed up the process.

FDA is going to conduct a new pilot that will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance their review of imported foods at ports of entry. Many foods that were linked to food poisoning outbreaks were imported into this country, such as the ongoing frozen raw ground tuna Salmonella Newport outbreak that has sickened at least 13 people in 7 states.

The Blueprint will also look at food delivery services, which need temperature controls and specialized packing materials to keep food safe as it reaches the consumer. E-commerce is an important part of food distribution, and business models present food safety challenges. This new era of smarter food safety will hopefully increase consumer protection and help reduce foodborne outbreaks.

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