Late last month, the Food and Drug Administration released a draft document outlining the agency's strategic priorities and program goals for the next five years. Implementing a comprehensive food safety system that focuses on prevention and improved nutrition is listed as one of four key priorities. IDFA expects that issuing guidelines on front-of-package labeling and encouraging the food industry to reduce sodium content in products will be high on FDA's to-do list in the coming year.
FDA's overarching goal for healthy dietary practices and nutrition is to "reduce the rates of chronic diseases associated with food by promoting consumer nutrition information and supporting consumption of a healthy diet by the U.S. population." This means that the agency likely will shift its focus from reacting to problems when they arise to proactively protecting food products and preventing safety problems, whenever possible.
Specifically, the agency plans to:
- Establish and rank science-based preventive controls based on risk, identify and prioritize knowledge gaps, and measure public health effects;
- Achieve high rates of compliance with preventive controls, both domestically and internationally; and
- Ensure adequate scientific capacity to support public health decision-making.
These are the agency's stated objectives and strategies for achieving its goal:
- Provide clear and timely information so consumers can choose a healthier diet and reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity. These efforts will involve improving nutrition labeling on food packages. As an example, FDA cites its front-of-package labeling initiative as a way to combat obesity.
- Encourage product reformulation to increase the availability of nutritious food products. This effort will include a "sustained, multi-faceted, coordinated effort to reduce the level of sodium in processed food."
- FDA also plans to foster improved product formulation through labeling and other initiatives.
"It's clear that FDA's focus on enhancement of food safety, along with nutrition guidance on voluntary front-of-package labeling, remain FDA's top priorities," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs.
Members Encouraged to Contact IDFA regarding Comments
FDA will accept public comments on the draft strategic plan through November 1. IDFA intends to submit extensive comments emphasizing key issues for the dairy industry, including:
- Advancement of regulatory and scientific innovation;
- Support of programs that enhance the safety and integrity of the global food supply, including risk-based domestic and import sampling;
- Development of a schedule for pending food-standard rulemakings and an approach to streamline modernization of existing standards;
- Completion of ultra-filtered milk rulemaking;
- Approval of the IDFA and NMPF petition to allow non-nutritive sweeteners in flavored milk and sweetened dairy products;
- Front-of-package labeling that is informative about nutrients to encourage;
- Prohibition of raw milk sales; and
- Support of NCIMS Grade A program.
IDFA urges all interested members to contact Frye at email@example.com regarding questions or additional input to the work areas listed above.
Read "FDA Strategic Priorities 2011 - 2015: Responding to the Public Health Challenges of the 21st Century," draft 9/29/10.
Read the Federal Register notice, 10/1/10.