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This article was originally published in Food Safety News.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released the Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program's Final Strategic Plan for 2012 to 2016.
The plan highlights seven strategic "program goals" to better orient the U.S. food supply toward science-based food safety and labeling standards. It also includes nearly 100 initiatives to help achieve those goals.
The program suggests inspectors be empowered to assess facilities more thoroughly on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the processes under inspection, the inherent risk of the food produced there, and the facility's food safety record.
- Establish science-based preventive control standards across the farm-to-table continuum:
The FVM Program will aim to set preventive standards against foodborne illness and intentional contamination for every link in the chain between growing and eating. This includes standards for production, processing, distribution, storage, transportation and marketing. Looking to the future, the program will continue to evaluate its standards and research improvements by working with industry experts.Achieve high rates of compliance with preventive control standards domestically and internationally.
The program suggests inspectors be empowered to assess facilities more thoroughly on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the processes under inspection, the inherent risk of the food produced there, and the facility's food safety record.Strengthen scientific leadership, capacity, and partnership to support public health and animal health decision making.
The program aims to foster "a culture of collaboration" with other research and health agencies in government, academia and private industry -- both domestic and foreign -- to expand each others' scientific capabilities.Provide accurate and useful information so consumers can choose a healthier diet and reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity.
The program hopes to work with industry and consumer groups to improve the nutritional information on not only human food products, but animal foods as well. The end goal is to allow consumers the ability to make healthier decisions about their diet (or their pet's).Encourage food product reformulation and safe production of dietary supplements.
The program plans to use its influence and regulatory tools to help promote production of healthier foods and improve safety oversights on dietary supplements.Improve detection of and response to foodborne outbreaks and contamination incidents.
Recognizing that preventive methods cannot protect against every contamination event in a complex food system, the program will encourage new advancements in detection and containment.Advance animal drug safety and effectiveness.
In an effort to encourage safe and effective use of animal drugs, the program will work to reduce the use of unapproved animal drugs and the overuse or abuse of legal drugs. Furthermore, the program will promote information on the "appropriate, judicious" use of medically important antibiotics in farm animals.
The mission to establish preventive strategies for the food system stems from new goals set forth by Congress in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011.
The FVM issued its final plan after first issuing a draft of it on Sept. 30, 2011, which then opened a 30-day commenting period. According to the FVM, the final plan was published after the program carefully reviewed and considered all of the comments it received.