The US has one of the safest food supplies in the world. However, a need exists to further improve the safety of the US food supply. Increasing the funding to the FDA and FSIS will not produce substantial improvement, unless both regulatory agencies move from a reactive approach in dealing with food safety issues to a preventive approach.
During 2001 to 2003, I had the privilege to serve on a National Academies of Sciences committee. This committee was formed at the request of Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety Inspection Service. We documented our findings in “Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food.” The report can be accessed at the following URL: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=030908928X
The committee recognized that further gains in public health can only be achieved by updating food regulations with a focus on prevention. As a result, our recommendations included the following:
- Regulatory emphasis must focus on prevention, reduction or elimination of foodborne disease hazards
- The US food processing industry must move from an inspection based system to a process control based system to ensure the production of safe food.
- Future significant gains in food safety can only be realized with the implementation of more effective process control measures.
- HACCP plans (corporate food safety plans) should be developed that are specific to a product and a processing line.
- Statistical process control linked to continuous improvement must be a part of food safety regulations. The concept of continuous improvement is central to food safety.
- Microbiological samples provide the organization and the regulatory agency with a score card of performance.
Food processing regulations should be updated using the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences. These recommendations focus on developing a more preventive approach to regulating food production