What worries the deep thinkers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), the agency’s science-based regulatory unit, is pretty well spelled out in the Center’s new Science and Research (CSR) Strategic Plan. Among these concerns are keeping imported foods safe as that sector doubled during the last decade and continues to grow very rapidly. “In 2011, 80 percent of seafood and 50 percent of fresh fruit consumed in the United States was imported—and consumer demand continues to rise for vegetables, coffee, tea, and cocoa from aboard,” the CFSAN planners wrote. In addition, the CSR Strategic Plan points to a need for change in sterilizing and disinfecting food to accommodate consumer preferences for more fresh and minimally processed foods. “New technologies, such as the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics and food packaging, require whole new regimens for assessing safety,” the planners wrote. “Further, ever-increasing consumer interest in dietary supplements poses special challenges for ensuring the safety of marketed products and their supply chain. “Finally, unexpected contamination of food and cosmetics, whether by familiar agents or previously unrecognized ones, will continue to occur despite a new emphasis on preventing problems before they occur.” In its forward planning, CFSAN will rest some of its actions on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which calls for updating the nation’s food safety system with hazard prevention controls for both domestic and imported foods. “The goal of FSMA is to introduce safety standards and practices aimed at preventing contamination of food before it occurs, with standards grounded in the latest food-safety research and science,” according to CSR Strategic Plan. “By setting science-based preventive control standards for the way industry produces, distributes, and markets food, the government can better protect products entering the stream of commerce.” CFSAN sees itself as a major participant in this effort to establish shared responsibility and accountability for food safety. The CSR Strategic Plan, according to CFSAN, is “fully aligned” with FDA’s strategic priority to Implement a New Prevention-Focused Food Safety System to Protect Public Health and the goals and strategies of FDA’s new Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine (OFVM). Five strategic goals, thought to have have the greatest impact for modernizing the nation’s food safety system and protecting public health,are included in the plan. These are:

  • Better control and preparation for hazards
  • Create faster and validated methods
  • Influence consumer behavior toward healthy dietary choices
  • Develop leading edge technology for understanding and evaluating scientific information
  • Improve our adaptability and responsiveness