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 November 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)
- President Biden announced his intention to nominate Dr. Robert Califf as FDA Commissioner. The FDA, is currently being overseen by Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, but the FDA has been without a permanent head since the President took office in January. Califf, a cardiologist by trade, was briefly the FDA Commissioner during the last year of the Obama Administration.
- FDA and non-profit public health organization, Stop Foodborne Illness, collaborated on a webinar series that explored food safety culture, one element of FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Initiative. The webinar series brought together a number of experts from the public and private sectors to collaborate and share experiences related to the importance of a robust food safety culture in helping to ensure safe food production. More information about the New Era for Smarter Food Safety Initiative can be found here.
- FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Booster shots for all adults. As of November 19,2021, any adult can receive a Moderna or Pfizer boostershot regardless of which original FDA-authorized vaccination course they received, as long as the adult received their full dosage 6-months ago.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- USDA- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Posted FY2020 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations Summary. A summary of outbreaks investigated in FY2020 was made available on the FSIS website on November 5, 2021. Each year FSIS collaborates with public health partners to investigate outbreaks of foodborne illness to determine if there is an association between FSIS-regulated products and human illness. FSIS works with these partners to determine specific products that make people sick and find preventative measures to prevent additional illness.
- USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $32 million in grants awarded to 167 meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities to support expanded capacity and efficiency through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program. MPIRG is a new program jointly administered by the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) and FSIS and authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The program was part of USDA’s comprehensive funding package to “help small and very small processing facilities weather the pandemic, compete in the marketplace, and get the support they need to reach more customers.” Remaining funds will be allocated after the next Request for Applications (RFA) is posted.
- FSIS updated the individual establishment Salmonella performance standard category information for raw poultry carcasses, raw chicken parts, and comminuted poultry products. Additionally, FSIS posted the aggregate sampling results showing the number of establishments in categories 1, 2, or 3 for establishments producing young chicken or turkey carcasses, raw chicken parts, or not ready-to-eat (NRTE) comminuted poultry products at the location linked above.
- The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) hosted a Public Meeting – November 2021. From November 17-Novemeber 19, 2021, NACMCF held a series of virtual meetings to discuss two food safety priorities: USDA-FSIS addressed: “Enhancing Salmonella Control in Poultry Products of Salmonella in poultry” whereas FDA addressed: “Cyclospora cayetanensis Contamination.”
- The House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act on November 19, 2022. The Build Back Better Act would provide, among other things, funding and establishes programs to address a broad array of areas ranging from education to labor as well as childcare, health care, taxes, immigration, and the environment. Now, the bill is under consideration in the Senate.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Issued Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Granted a motion to stay the OSHA ETS. The OSHA ETS was published on November 5, 2021. The OSHA ETS requires employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that all their employees be “fully” vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The ETS was to go into effect January 4, 2022. On November 6, 2021 and reaffirmed on November 12, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a motion to stay the ETS. Challenges to the OSHA ETS were filed in eleven other Circuit Courts as well. On November 16, 2021, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, through a lottery system, drew the 6th Circuit as the U.S. Court of Appeals to hear the consolidated lawsuit against the OSHA ETS.