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National Restaurant Association - FDA eyes regs to explain food-safety act

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FDA eyes regs to explain food-safety act

As the nation approaches the first anniversary of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act, the Food and Drug Administration is busy writing regulations to explain how the law will affect the food supply chain, according to a briefing issued by Hogan Lovells, a Washington, D.C., law firm that represents the National Restaurant Association.

The legislation, which was signed into law last year, primarily affects manufacturers and other businesses that handle and manage food products before the products reach grocery stores, restaurants and other outlets, said Joan McGlockton, the NRA's vice president of industry affairs and food policy.

The NRA was a strong proponent of the legislation, which makes the most sweeping changes in decades to enhance food safety across the supply chain. McGlockton said the NRA remains "a strong supporter of the act as we do believe it will increase consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply."

The FDA is immersed in issuing rules to explain how the law will work. According to the briefing, some issues likely to gain attention in the coming months include:

  • Remote access to food safety plans. The FDA is expressing interest in requiring food facilities to electronically submit their food safety plans to the agency, even though the law does not contain a provision granting the agency remote access to records.
  • Traceability. The FDA plans to seek input from stakeholders in considering whether to develop voluntary guidance for foods beyond those designated as high risk to enhance product tracing in the supply chain.
  • Third-party audits. The FDA is considering using third-party audits as a verification activity under the foreign supplier verification program.
  • Consultative audits. The FDA has stated that auditors who perform consultative audits, which are audits for internal purposes only, must immediately notify the FDA if they discover a condition that could cause or contribute to a serious risk to the public health.
  • User fees. The FDA may ask to impose additional user fees on food companies to help fund implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
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