OFW’s Food & Agriculture team regularly monitors announcements and policy issuances from FDA, USDA, and other agencies to keep our clients apprised of regulatory developments that may impact their business. Here are a few of the developments from January that we took note of. If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- FDA published a new, interactive public data dashboard that allows anyone to view historical data from the Reportable Food Registry (RFR). The RFR is a crucial tool that the food industry uses to alert the FDA of a dangerous food product and help remove these harmful products from the market. With the new annually-updated dashboard, it will be faster and easier to gather data from the RFR.
- FDA released a report highlighting the agency’s investigation of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that caused 31 reported illnesses and four hospitalizations in the U.S. between June and August 2021. Since summer 2021, FDA has been working with the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state partners to investigate the outbreak, which was linked to packaged salad greens. What makes this outbreak unique is it is believed to be the first outbreak investigated domestically associated with leafy greens grown in a Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) operation. FDA will therefore be tightening the requirements and recommendations for CEA operations.
- FDA and the National Egg Regulatory Officials announced a new program for state egg and egg product regulators entitled the Egg Regulatory Program Standards. The new program standards are designed to integrate the regulatory activities of partner agencies into an efficient and effective process for improving egg and egg product safety in the U.S.
- FDA proposed a new rule to amend the regulation on how and when the FDA may determine that a pre-market notification for a food contact notification (FCN) that is no longer effective. Primarily, this rule would enable the FDA to determine that an FCN is no longer effective when the manufacturer discontinues its use based on reasons other than safety, for example, they no longer produce, supply, or use the food contact substance.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- USDA and FDA continued collaboration on the Closer to Zero (C2Z) initiative. This initiative provides a crucial framework for the work that must be done to reduce heavy metal content in foods, but particularly in foods consumed by infants and children.
- USDA continued to work into 2022 on initiatives that it believes will result in a more competitive and resilient meat and poultry supply chain amidst supply chain problems due, in part, to COVID-19. This is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. This includes a recent announcement that USDA will be dedicating $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds towards the expansion of independent processing capacity.
- USDA Secretary Vilsack and the Biden Administration renewed the general initiative towards climate-smart agriculture. Along with highlighting key 2021 accomplishments for creating a better market and expanding climate-smart agriculture, USDA’s Natural Resource Conversation Service (NRCS) announced several new and expanded opportunities, including national availability of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts option, a new and streamlined EQIP Cover Crop Initiative, and added flexibilities for producers to easily re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that the agency is withdrawing the COVID Vaccination Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard” (ETS) as an immediately effective emergency standard. As of January 26, 2021, OSHA will treat the ETS as a proposed rule. By way or review, the OSHA ETS mandated employers with 100 or more employees require all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be required to wear face coverings and undergo weekly testing.
- The Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) — a collaboration between the CDC, FDA, and USDA-FSIS has published its priorities for calendar years 2022–2023. IFSAC will continue to focus on the four priority pathogens: Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter.