FDA has established a Food Safety Dashboard where it will publish metrics relating to implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). As explained in a statement from FDA Acting Commissioner Norman Sharpless and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas on measuring the progress being made through implementing FSMA, the dashboard is intended to help measure progress and continue to refine its implementation. “As the seven foundational rules of FSMA reach their compliance dates over the next several years, it’s important to begin to track their impact on the food safety system,” the statement said.
The dashboard, launched in October, is part of FDA-TRACK, a tool FDA uses to monitor certain FDA programs through key performance measures and projects, and regularly updates to ensure transparency to the public.
FDA expects it will take several years to establish trends in the data, but said that the initial data show that since 2016, the majority of companies inspected are in compliance with the new requirements of the preventive control rules. Additional FDA data also show that, overall, industry has improved the time it takes to move from identifying a recall event to initiating a voluntary recall, from an average of four days in 2016 to approximately two days in 2019. “In fact, comparing the FSMA data with our recall data shows the bigger picture, demonstrating the effectiveness of preventive measures as food recalls once again have reached a five-year low, the statement said.”
At this point, FDA cannot definitively say these are meaningful trends representative of the entire food industry. However, FDA sees it as an encouraging start as it, industry, and the regulatory partners work together to improve food safety and protect consumers.
The new dashboard introduces metrics for food safety outcomes, associated measures and initial data for certain aspects of FSMA. Over time, the Food Safety Dashboard will be populated with additional data to show more FSMA outcomes and, hopefully, an overall reduction in foodborne illnesses attributable to FDA-regulated food products. The initial metrics are tracking outcomes in the areas of inspections and recalls for three FSMA rules. They include:
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls rules for both human food and food for animals (preventive controls rules). The first compliance dates for these rules occurred in September 2016
- Imported food safety, including data relevant to the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) rule. The first compliance date for importers subject to FSVP occurred in May 2017.
The data FDA released only provide a snapshot of both domestic and foreign industry compliance with these regulations. Many factors will influence these data over time, especially in the early phases of implementation. For instance, some of the rules feature staggered compliance dates based on size of business to allow smaller businesses more time to comply. The data will ultimately help the agency identify trends in food safety, continue to improve our risk-based food safety framework, and modernize the agency’s food safety approaches in a way that will help prepare it for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety.
FDA also noted that publishing these metrics is part of its commitment to greater transparency and accountability for all stakeholders responsible for improving the safety of the food supply. The agency plans to update the data for these three FSMA rules quarterly, with a goal to ultimately publish metrics for all seven rules.
“We know that we can’t stop every outbreak of foodborne illness; however, reducing the incidence of illness and death attributed to contaminated food is a shared goal of growers, manufacturers, packers, suppliers, importers and regulators alike,” the statement said. “This goal can be realized through the successful implementation of FSMA and modernizing our approaches to food safety from farm to fork.”