Stakeholders will have additional time to give input on the Food and Drug Administration’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety, originally launched in April. 

The FDA says, “the input received at the public meeting, and in comments submitted to the accompanying Federal Register docket, will help shape an FDA blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety.” 

The original comment period was set to close on Nov. 20. But with a 15-day extension, the comment period will now last until Dec. 5.

The ‘New Era’
The FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative is intended to build on the FDA’s efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization. Some key point of the “New Era” initiative:

  • Augment efforts implementing important FSMA requirements while also leveraging, among other things, the use of new and emerging technologies;
  • Use the “Blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety.” The Blueprint will address several areas, including traceability, digital technologies, and evolving food business models;
  • Review and apply tools used by other industries that are already digitally tracking the movement of planes, ride sharing, and delivery of packaged goods — these include distributed ledgers, sensors, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence;
  • Review of the “last mile” in any given food’s trip to consumers’ homes, including a look at packaging materials, temperature control approaches, etc., to identify the appropriate standard of care in this rapidly growing sector.

The FDA plans to release the blueprint in early 2020.  It is planned to outline critical steps to protect public health and keep pace with a changing global food supply chain. It will also address public health challenges, including tracing sources of contaminated foods and using new predictive analytics tools like artificial intelligence to assess risks and prioritize the agency’s work and resources.

Comments can be submitted either electronically or written. The FDA asks that commenters please note that late submissions will not be considered. The electronic filing system will accept comments until 11:59 p.m, Dec. 5, 2019.

Full commenting instructions can be found here.

The people driving the bus
Both Yiannas and Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless arrived at the FDA from careers in the private sector. Yiannas said that gives them a good perspective to make significant recommendations for the direction the agency needs to pursue its efforts to improve food safety.

Yiannas said it was rewarding to serve Walmart’s millions of customers worldwide, but he is even more driven to serve the 328 million people living in the United States. He considers the American public to be his employer, as does Sharpless.

“We both learned from working with the FDA, while on the other side of the fence, that there is a lot of industry and government — whether it’s the States or the Federal government — can do to advance food safety. Tackling food safety is a shared responsibility, and there’s much more we can do together and in a manner that benefits people, food companies, and the planet,” the two FDA administrators said in their announcement today.

“Ultimately, for our journey toward a new era of smarter food safety to be a success, all those involved in making food products available to consumers must walk in lockstep on this path. Whether you’re in the private or public sector, whether you’re at the state or federal level, we’re all working for the same bosses — American consumers — so let’s work together to keep their food safe. They’re counting on us to do so.” 

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