The Food and Drug Administration needs help.
With the Nov. 6 election, most believe the FDA will soon issue long-delayed proposed regulations related to the Food Safety Modernization Act. That would be only the first step toward a system the industry hopes will provide more consistently safe domestic and imported fruits and vegetables.
The new food safety law mandates the FDA develop regulations for all food under its jurisdiction. The Government Accountability Office said the FDA must establish a voluntary user fee program for importers that encourages third-party certification. Encouraging importers to pay for voluntary service may prove a challenge.
In creating a system that will govern hundreds of thousands of growing operations, the FDA must leverage the resources and staff of other governments around the globe.
Some industry leaders say FDA could be more effective if it certifies private laboratories as testing facilities. That could reduce the delays in testing imported produce and reduce waste and inefficiencies.
The industry will know more about FDA’s stance on third-party inspections after it issues proposed rules for foreign supplier verification.
The FDA does need help, and even the process of deciding who should assist them and under what terms is a monumental task.
It is time for the agency present its plan, because each day that passes will delay the arrival of credible food safety oversight.