USA – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new modern approach to food safety with a goal to augment its efforts implementing important Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements.

The “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” approach encompasses the use of new and emerging technologies to create a more digital, traceable and safer system, while also leveraging the use of new and emerging technologies.

FDA said it intends to develop a “Blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety”, something that looks to address several areas, including traceability, digital technologies and evolving food business models.

This further complements the agency’s efforts in the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which establishes science- and risk-based standards for the production and transportation of domestic and imported foods.

It also leverages the use of technology to advance food safety, especially in the use of new analytical tools including development of network of laboratories.

The GenomeTrakr Network tool allows sequencing of the genomes of foodborne pathogens and then upload the genomic sequence and the geographic location from which the pathogen was gathered, into a publicly accessible database.

“The use of new and evolving digital technologies may play a pivotal role in tracing the origin of a contaminated food to its source in minutes, or even seconds, instead of days or weeks, when contamination does occur,” read a statement from acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas.

“Access to information during an outbreak about the origin of contaminated food will help us conduct more timely root cause analysis and apply these learnings to prevent future incidents from happening in the first place.”

Digital technologies in transparent, safer food system

FDA has identified that digital technologies such as distributed ledgers, sensors, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence can be critical in enhancing food safety.

The agency has unveiled plans to conduct a new pilot that will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to explore new ways to enhance the agency’s review of imported foods at ports of entry to ensure they meet U.S. food safety standards.

Use of these technologies are viewed as a quicker and more efficient way of achieving a transparent and safer food system while also addressing consumer demands for quick access to information like where their food come from, how they’re produced or undergoing recall.

Evolving food business models including rise of food e-commerce necessitates use of modern technologies which are set to change the way food moves from farm to table.

According to FDA, evolving business models present food safety challenges as well as novel considerations around regulatory framework and oversight at the federal, state and local level.

The FDA’s Blueprint will discuss areas for collaboration in this space as it works to identify the appropriate standard of care in this rapidly growing sector.

Last month, FDA proposed new funding across multiple aspects of US food safety systems, which means to solidify the agency’s capabilities in food safety management.