The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service announced yesterday that the agencies will hold a joint public meeting on improving the federal system for tracing unsafe food products back to their source.

“Recognizing the need to increase the speed and accuracy of traceback investigations and traceforward operations, both agencies are building on existing efforts by seeking public input,” said the agencies in a news release.

The agencies hope that public input will help identify gaps and provide meaningful suggestions for improvement.

“This public meeting provides an opportunity for FDA to collaborate more closely with FSIS as well as with members of the food industry, many of whom have been making important innovations in food safety practices and technology, and all of whom bear primary responsibility for producing and marketing safe food,” said Michael Taylor, senior advisor to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

“The Food Safety and Inspection Service is eager to work FDA, public health officials, consumer advocates, and the food industry to improve our ability to trace products that may cause illness outbreaks,” said Jerold Mande, USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “The public can provide valuable input to strengthen our prevention, surveillance and response and recovery efforts.”

FDA and FSIS share jurisdiction over the nation’s food supply. FSIS regulates meat, poultry, and processed egg products and FDA is responsible for just about everything else, about 80 percent of the food supply. 

In the event of a foodborne illness outbreak, the relevant agency conducts the initial investigation, in close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health and agriculture departments.

The public meeting is scheduled for December 9th and 10th in Washington, DC at the USDA’s headquarters. 

For more information on the public meeting on food safety coordination and traceback, visit the USDA’s website.