The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it plans to launch new efforts to modernize the current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for Foods. Working with an independent contractor, FDA soon will distribute surveys to 2,700 randomly selected food manufacturing facilities to gather current information on a variety of food safety practices that may have changed since the GMPs were last updated in the 1980s.
Questions on the survey address food safety plans, hazard-analysis and risk-based preventive controls, employee training, sanitation, personal hygiene, allergen controls, process controls, post-production processing, supplier approval practices and recordkeeping.
"IDFA encourages all members that receive the voluntary survey to participate and to provide as much information as possible, because the results will have an immediate and hopefully positive impact on which elements of the GMPs are updated," said Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards.
The new plan revives previous modernization efforts by the agency, which have remained dormant since FDA issued a white paper on the topic in 2005 and accepted industry comments in 2006. At that time, IDFA supported FDA's efforts to cover new food safety and technology issues not currently included in the GMPs, but emphasized that FDA access to processing and operational records should not be expanded. (For background, read IDFA's comments from 2004 and 2006.)
In the white paper, the agency's key proposals were:
- To require companies to provide and document training for supervisors and workers in the areas of food hygiene, food protection, employee health and personal hygiene.
- To require food processors that produce foods with any of the eight major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybeans) to have a written food allergen control plan that meets FDA's standards.
- To require a written environmental pathogen control program from processors of ready-to-eat foods (which would likely include most dairy products) that support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes.
- To require food processors to develop and maintain a written sanitation procedures plan that at a minimum covers food processing equipment.
- To require food companies to maintain critical records on the new requirements listed above, and to offer those records for inspection by FDA investigators.
Members with questions may contact Sayler at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (202) 220-3544.