AFDO has been a long-term collaborator with the Food Safety Summit, participating as a member of the Educational Advisory Board, coordinating summit sessions, and providing technical specialists for sessions and a presenter for the Town Hall session. You may wonder the association representing state and local regulatory agencies is so interested in a meeting largely attended by industry?
First, state and local agencies perform most of the food safety inspections across the United States. It’s critical that their message and perspective be included in the national food safety conversations at events such as the Food Safety Summit. The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) works with the summit organizers to deliver that message, which includes:
- State and local regulators and health officials conduct most of the foodborne outbreak investigations and are typically the boots on the ground during the national investigations.
- State and local regulators are completing all of inspections at retail food establishments such as restaurants and grocery stores.
- State regulators annually complete between 60 percent and 70 percent of the inspections completed by FDA in food manufacturing facilities.
- State regulators will complete nearly all the produce inspections which will be beginning for the first time in 2019.
- State regulators complete a significant portion of inspections at small meat and poultry processors.
Second, food safety professionals regardless of sectors all want the same outcome — safe food. In its 120-year history, AFDO has continuously endorsed a collaborative approach to food safety regulation. We believe conversation and dialogue between all stakeholders results in regulations that best protect the public. It’s pretty simple: The more we communicate and discuss food safety challenges with industry the better we understand each other’s perspectives and often resolve challenges.
Third, typically industry is always a bit ahead of regulatory agencies in addressing new and emerging technologies. Having regulatory agencies present at primarily industry events to learn about the newest technologies and methods that moving into food establishments and manufacturers helps prepare regulators for the future. Environments such as the Summit allow regulators to ask questions of experts and learn about these new technologies and methods.
At the Food Safety Summit please take an opportunity to meet the regulators, ask questions, and learn. We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 Summit!
About the author: Steven Mandernach became the Executive Director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials in 2018 after serving as Bureau Chief for Food and Consumer Safety for the State of Iowa for more than 8 years.
An advocate for collaboration with all parts of our food system, Steven has served in an effort to bring all voices to the table for the best solutions to keeping food safe for consumers.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)