calendar2016_406x250It’s impossible to say what will be the big food safety story of 2016. The ultimate unpredictable is what foodborne outbreaks will dominate the headlines and how they may impact policy decisions. But we’ve done our best to list the regulatory activities to keep on your radar for the coming year. FSMA: The Food Safety Modernization Act will continue to be prominent work from the Food and Drug Administration. The last two major rules regarding sanitary transportation and intentional adulteration, will be finalized by March 31, 2106, and May 31, 2016, respectively. The agency is likely to release a bunch of new guidance documents for industry and food safety advocates will be watching to see how implementation of the major rules goes. FSMA was fully funded in Congress’ spending package for 2016. FDA will have to report the details of how that money is spent in the hopes that Congress continues the full funding in fiscal year 2017. Mechanically Tenderized Beef: Labeling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef go into effect in May. Catfish Inspections: The switch from FDA inspections of catfish to USDA inspections should happen in March. Hog Slaughter Rule: It’s not on the White House’s regulatory plan, but USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is poised to issue a proposed rule expanding the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) beyond the five hog plants currently participating. Performance Standards: Also excluded from the regulatory plan is the rule for new pathogen performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground poultry and chicken parts. The proposed rule was issued in Jan. 2015 and food safety advocates are hoping it gets finalized in 2016. COOL Changes: Mandatory country-of-origin labeling for meat was repealed in the most recent funding bill, but it’s possible USDA could change to a voluntary program. Antibiotics: FDA Guidance #213, which asks animal pharmaceutical companies to remove growth-promotion claims from medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, goes into effect at the end of 2016 so there will likely be a flurry of activity from industry and those watching to see if industry complies this time next year. And FDA and USDA will likely do some preliminary work on collecting additional on-farm antimicrobial drug use and resistance data. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)