FDA should mplement risk-based approach for food safety

To more proactively tackle food safety problems, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should implement a risk-based approach to pinpoint where along the production, distribution and handling chains there is the greatest potential for contamination and other problems, says a new report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council.

FDA would then be able to direct appropriate amounts of its resources and attention to those high-risk areas and increase the chances of catching problems before they turn into widespread outbreaks, the report states.
The report offers FDA a blueprint for developing a risk-based model.  It also outlines several organizational steps the agency should take to improve the efficiency of its many food safety activities, such as increasing coordination with state and other federal agencies that share responsibility for protecting the nation's food supply.  In addition, the report says Congress should consider amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to explicitly provide the authority FDA needs to fulfill its food safety mission.
The report also calls for a centralized food safety data center outside of the regulatory agencies to collect information and conduct rapid, sophisticated assessments of food safety risks and appropriate policy interventions. 
“As recent illnesses traced to produce underscore, foodborne diseases cause significant suffering, so it's imperative that our food safety system functions effectively at all levels,” said committee chair Robert Wallace, professor, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City.  “FDA uses some risk assessment and management tactics, but the agency's approach is too often reactive and lacks a systematic focus on prevention. 
Our report's recommendations aim to help FDA achieve a comprehensive vision for proactively protecting against threats to the nation's food supply.”
The report was requested by Congress and sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Copies of the report are available at http://www.nap.edu/.


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