In an effort to enhance compliance with the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a new dashboard that will track and monitor how companies are implementing parts of the law, and how those changes are affecting the food safety system.
The dashboard, which has some data entered dating back to 2016, launched with the initial metrics of two rules from FSMA: the "Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls" rules for both human food and food for animals (preventive controls rules), and the imported food safety rule, including data relevant to the "Foreign Supplier Verification Program" (FSVP) rule.
"The data will ultimately help the agency identify trends in food safety, continue to improve our risk-based food safety framework, and modernize the agency’s food safety approaches in a way that will help prepare us for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety," the FDA's Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs Ned Sharpless, MD, said in a statement yesterday.
Eventually, metrics for all seven of the FSMA foundational rules will be added to the dashboard over the next several years, the FDA said. The FDA will update the Food Safety Dashboard quarterly.
Though the primary goal of the dashboard is to prevent and stop problems in the food chain before products reach the consumer, the dashboard will also include metrics to track outbreak responses, including tracking the number of days from a recall to a public FDA press release.
May take years to establish meaningful trends
Smaller businesses will have a longer time to comply and post on the dashboard, and the FDA warned that though the tool will provide useful information, the full benefit may not be reaped for some time.
"Taking into account these factors, considering the changing sizes of businesses subject to these regulations as these regulations become effective, and the changing regulatory approach from educational to more regulatory, the agency expects that it will take several years to establish meaningful trends to evaluate progress toward achieving the performance goals presented on the dashboard," the FDA said in its September FDA-TRACK newsletter.
But some progress is already apparent. According to the agency, initial data show that since 2016, most companies inspected are in compliance with the new preventive control rules requirements. Recalls and investigations are also becoming speedier, moving from 4 days in 2016 to 2 days in 2019.
"At this point we cannot definitively say these are meaningful trends representative of the entire food industry. However, this is an encouraging start as industry, the FDA and our regulatory partners work together to improve food safety and protect consumers," Sharpless said.
President Barack Obama signed FSMA into law in 2011, with the goal of moving the FDA away from food safety response to food safety prevention.
Sep 30 FDA statement
FDA-TRACK food safety dashboard
FDA-TRACK September newsletter