When it comes to the future of retail and new food businesses there is an overriding goal. Reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors.

That goal is guiding the work a coalition of government agencies and non-profit groups of food officials, according to Glenda Lewis of the Food and Drug Administration. She spoke this afternoon, May 13, about the coalition’s work and how it fits with the FDA’s New Era of Food Safety. Lewis is director for the Retail Food Protection Staff at FDA.

To achieve the goal of reducing risks there are some general themes. Lewis said there needs to be uniformity in training, both of food establishment staff and regulators. Part of that uniformity comes under the umbrella of communication. Another aspect of communication that needs to be reviewed and improved is the sharing of information between entities.

“Everything comes down to communication,” Lewis said. “. . . put a face on food safety.”

Uniformity in communication cannot be achieved until there is uniformity of the rules, which comes in the form of the federal Food Code, Lewis said. The coalition is developing a “tool kit” to help governmental entities adopt the most current version of the code.

One force driving behind the work on what the future of retail food business look like is e-commerce.

The big e is changing the last mile more than anything has before. Lewis said the development of smart kitchens is one element that can help mitigate the risks for foodborne illnesses. The new business models that come with e-commerce such as online-only purchasing call of scrutiny of current best practices.

Lewis said the FDA’s blueprint for the New Era of Food Safety includes new business models and retail modernization. Two areas of focus are modernizing the traditional retail approach to food safety and ensuring the safety of food produced for delivery using new business models.

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