WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Sept. 10 that it has moved to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to further protect consumers from foodborne illness.

It is the FDA’s first step in putting greater emphasis on the prevention of foodborne illness, holding imported food to the same food safety standards as domestically produced food, and developing a nationally integrated food safety system in partnership with state and local authorities.

The two rules finalized on Sept. 10, the preventive controls rules, focus on implementing modern food manufacturing processes for both human and animal foods.  It will ensure that food companies are taking action and working with the FDA to prevent hazards to customers on the front end, rather than waiting to act until an outbreak has occurred.

The final rules are the result of an extensive outreach effort, and incorporate thousands of public comments, including valuable input from farmers, consumers, the food industry and academic experts, to create a flexible and targeted approach to ensuring food safety.

"AFIA is pleased FDA recognized animal food is different from human food in revising the CGMPs to be more applicable to animal food facilities and addressing the hazards in our industry,” the America Feed Industry Association (AFIA) said in a released statement. 

“Due to the adaptation of the phase-in approach and the revisions to the CGMPs, the animal food rule cost-to-benefit ratio is more realistic. Although AFIA maintains FSMA will always be a costly regulation, we acknowledge FDA's attempt to equalize the gap between the cost and the limited benefits in the final rule.”

The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association said in a released statement: “We welcome the final FSMA rules for preventative controls for human and animal food and commend FDA for the deliberative and inclusive approach it took in developing these regulations.

“FSMA ensures that prevention is the cornerstone of our nation’s food safety strategy, places new responsibilities on food and beverage manufacturers, and provides the FDA with the authorities it needs to further strengthen our nation’s food safety net.”

The preventive controls rules require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans that indicate the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products and outline steps the facility would take to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of those problems occurring, the FDA stated. This means that food companies will be accountable for monitoring their facilities and identifying any potential hazards in their products and prevent those hazards.  Under these rules, the FDA will be able to assess these systems and their outcomes to prevent problems, will better be able to respond when food safety problems occur, and better protect the safety of manufactured food.

“We’ve been working with states, food companies, farmers and consumers to create smart, practical and meaningful rules,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, FDA. “And we have made a firm commitment to provide guidance, technical assistance and training to advance a food safety culture that puts prevention first.”

Once the seven FSMA rules are finalized in 2016, they will work together to systematically strengthen the food safety system and better protect public health, the FDA said.