The Food and Drug Administration unveiled last week a new web resource that will share information about and results from its sampling programs for food safety. The agency began developing the new surveillance sampling approach in 2014 with the joint goals of keeping contaminated products from reaching consumers and promoting a greater understanding of food safety hazards, which includes identifying potential vulnerabilities and ways to enhance the food safety system.
The program focused initially on sprouts, whole fresh avocados and raw milk cheese aged for 60 days. During fiscal year 2016, the agency will sample and test cucumbers and hot peppers under the program. FDA is testing for a variety of pathogens, including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes.
According to FDA, the microbiological surveillance sampling approach involves collecting a statistically determined number of samples of targeted foods over 12 to 18 months to ensure a statistically valid amount of data is available for its decision making. Collecting a larger number of samples allows the FDA to assess the prevalence of pathogens and to determine if there are common factors among the positive findings, such as season, region or whether the product was produced domestically or is imported.
The web resource is expected to include test results, including the total number of samples collected and tested, along with the collection date, sample type and pathogen detected for positive samples. Information on sampling assignments already conducted is expected to be released soon.
Members with questions may contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, at email@example.com.