Last week, the FDA released its Foods and Veterinary Medicine (FVM) Program’s Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2016-2025, which outlines goals and objectives for the next 10 years.

Focused on public health, the plan lists specific objectives in four categories, including food safety, nutrition, animal health and organizational excellence. In a previous article, we outlined the animal-health portion of the plan. This article breaks out the plan’s objectives and summarized strategies for protecting and improving food safety.

In the realm of food safety, the plan lists its intended outcome as “Reduce the incidence of illnesses and deaths attributable to preventable contamination of FDA-regulated food and feed products.” Toward that end, the FVM Program will work to prevent foodborne illness by establishing and ensuring compliance with appropriate, prevention-oriented standards at each step in the commercial process of food production and marketing to minimize the risk of contamination.

Specific food-safety objectives and strategies include:

1.       Establish and gain high rates of compliance with science-based preventive control standards across the global farm-to-table continuum.

  • Develop and implement a robust communication, training, and technical assistance plan for preventive control standards.
  • Utilize innovative inspection and compliance strategies, backed by administrative and judicial enforcement tools to foster compliance with preventive control standards.
  • Evaluate and improve the effectiveness of preventive control standards.
  • Evaluate and mitigate the risks of chemical exposures in food and feed products that pose public health or regulatory concerns.
  • Evaluate and mitigate the risks of microbiological hazards in food and feed products.

2.       Improve prevention, detection, and response to foodborne illness outbreaks and other food and feed safety incidents. This includes an enhanced effort to assess the root cause of outbreaks and ensure that knowledge gained from these assessments is incorporated in future prevention efforts.

  • Improve data analysis and collaboration with food and feed safety partners, including industry, academia, and other domestic and foreign regulatory bodies.
  • Improve risk prediction and prioritization to focus FVM resources and the efforts of regulatory partners on high-risk commodities and firms.
  •  Utilize knowledge gained from previous outbreaks and other incidents to better inform risk modeling, identify best practices, and increase compliance through voluntary corrective actions.
  • Improve collaboration and communication within the agency and among external stakeholders in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FVM compliance actions.

3.       Strengthen the ability of consumers to play a proactive role in minimizing food safety risks.

  • Increase research, data analysis, and systematic evaluation to improve the effectiveness of food safety education in changing unsafe consumer food handling behaviors.
  • Increase consumer-based communications and outreach regarding safe food handling practices, including leveraging a variety of community-based education programs.
  • Enhance communication to consumers during and following illness outbreaks.

4.       Enhance the safety of food and feed additives and dietary supplements.

  • Implement innovative regulatory and compliance strategies to improve premarket oversight and safety evaluation of food and feed additives, GRAS substances, and FDA’s ability to verify that substances added to the food supply meet applicable safety standards.
  • In collaboration with external stakeholders, including regulatory and scientific partners, improve data-driven, post-market surveillance of substances added to the food supply to understand and assess changing use and intake patterns, emerging toxicological data, and adverse event reports.
  • Make innovative use of FDA resources and collaborative initiatives with regulatory partners and industry to achieve the goals of FDA’s dietary supplement GMP regulation and other standards related to the safety, quality, identity, and integrity of dietary supplements.
  • Expand consumer and healthcare provider education regarding safe use of dietary supplements.

5.       Strengthen existing partnerships with international, federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the FDA’s food safety program for government and industry.

  • Enhance leveraging of food safety efforts with domestic and international regulatory and public health partners.
  • Increase engagement and partnerships with domestic and international intergovernmental organizations to strengthen food safety capacity building and food safety standards development.
  • Utilize the Partnership for Food Protection (PFP)5 and its FY 2015-2020 Strategic Plan to continue to build the national IFSS domestically.

The FVM program encompasses the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and the Center for Veterinary Medicine, as well as the related activities under the Office of Global Regulatory Operations and Policy and the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

View the FVM’s 10-year plan online.