How does the FDA Work to Protect Food Safety in America
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a key role in the protection and assurance of American food safety. According to the FDA’s mission statement, they are “responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security…of our nation’s food supply…”. The FDA has regulatory jurisdiction over the following foods (though this does not represent the entirety of the food products they have jurisdiction over): dietary supplements, bottled water, food additives, infant formulas, and other food products. It is noteworthy that when it comes to meat, poultry, and egg products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) plays a lead role in regulating certain aspects of these products’ safety, such as their handling and storage, as well as their labeling. The FDA also plays a defensive role by protecting Americans from intentional food adulteration from either domestic or foreign producers.
The FDA’s protection of American food products is exercised primarily through regulation, inspection and approval, issuing recalls and alerts, and providing food safety guidance and rules.
Much of the responsibilities listed above fall under the scope of the FDA’s compliance and enforcement sector. The FDA’s compliance and enforcement department monitors domestic producers, as well as imported goods from foreign firms. The sector of compliance and enforcement focuses primarily on research and method development, inspection, sampling, recalls, and when necessary, seizure of adulterated products and criminal prosecution.
The FDA’s compliance and enforcement department utilizes various methods to protect the safety of American food. The CFSAN Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) is a database which contains information regarding any complaints submitted to the FDA of adverse effects connected with food products. The FDA routinely inspects domestic food processing plants to ensure their safe handling and processing practices, as well as conducts certain Foreign Food Inspection Programs. The FDA’s Food Compliance Programs provide inspection personnel criteria regarding the evaluation of a firm’s compliance to food industry safety laws. The FDA also conducts sampling, in which food products and the environment they are being processed in are tested for pathogenic bacteria or viruses. The goal of sampling is to catch any food contamination before it spreads and potentially causes an outbreak. Finally, the FDA is responsible for and issues Untitled Letters or Warning Letters to food firms that violate FDA food safety regulations, providing a list of violations, required amendments, and a time frame in which these must be implemented.
In these ways, and others, the FDA works to ensure the safety of America’s food supply. For further information regarding the FDA’s role in the protection of food production, visit the FDA’s website.