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Chick-News.com Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Food Safety News

10/02/2019

The September 23rd edition of Food Safety News carried reports of FDA inspections of a livestock auction company and two plants manufacturing ready-to-eat foods. The summary of FDA findings of violations including deficient food safety plans, inadequate manufacturing practices, misbranding and failure to register plants are at the very least troubling. One company yielded a significant number of swabs contaminated with Listeria from work surfaces. In the case of the livestock auction company, it was evident that animals received prophylactic administration of antibiotics without the involvement of a veterinarian and in the absence of appropriate records.

It is hoped that the deficiencies noted in the two food companies are not representative of small-scale plants producing RTE products and baked goods. Deliberate or negligent administration of antibiotics to livestock is also unacceptable and creates problems of emerging drug resistance, residues and consumer rejection of meat products.

The question arises as to the number of inspections carried out by the FDA. Presumably the Agency will respond to any trace-back involving foodborne infection. Inspection of grossly deficient food plants with termination of their registration is essential to preserving public health. It would be fair to ask how many Krispy Delight Corporations in Long Island City, NY or Flying Food Group LLC located in Lawrenceville, GA are currently in operation but not in compliance with regulations and acceptable standards. The FDA is hard pressed to regulate drugs and medical devices in addition to supervising processing facilities, food plants and distributors.

Despite increasing funding to assist the Agency implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, there must be hundreds of small plants falling through the cracks and operating under the FDA radar. That limited inspections revealed egregious deviation from acceptable standards suggests the need for more resources focused on prevention of foodborne disease. This could best be accomplished by detaching the food component of the FDA remit. This would allow the Agency to concentrate on drug approval and inspection of pharmaceutical plants both in the U.S. and more importantly China and India collectively responsible for the bulk of our generics. Food plants could fall under the jurisdiction of a frequently proposed Food Safety Agency paralleling the systems in operation in the E.U. and Canada.

By defining a narrow jurisdiction for a proposed food safety agency, appointing competent and specialized administrators and technical personnel and training inspectors, would provide consumers with a higher level of safety than at present. Large-scale food manufacturers generally employ personnel capable of designing and implementing food safety programs appropriate to their product range. Admittedly deviations occur such as the Blue Bell Creamery Company responsible for Listeria outbreaks or the Peanut Corporation of America responsible for an extensive and prolonged outbreak of salmonellosis. These may well be exceptions to the generally high standard and professionalism demonstrated by large companies. Unfortunately 20 percent of the food companies require 80 percent of the resources of an agency and a commitment to enforcing existing regulations would be enhanced by establishing a separate Federal Food Safety Agency.


 
Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane