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 October 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)
- Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals. FDA published a guidance document to take a critical step to further address preventable diet-related chronic diseases related to sodium and advance health equity. The guidance provides voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets for food manufacturers, chain restaurants and food service operators for 163 categories of processed, packaged, and prepared foods.
- FDA Hosted New Era of Smarter Food Safety Summit on E-Commerce. On October 19-21, 2021, FDA convened a virtual summit to discuss the safety, and potential food safety vulnerabilities, of foods sold online and delivered directly to consumers. Materials and recordings are available.
- FDA issued an annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program Report for FY 2019. FDA tested for 812 pesticides and industrial chemicals across 4,692 total samples and the majority of samples had pesticide residues below the limits (known as “tolerances”) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These results are consistent with the trend of low levels of pesticide residue violations over the past 8 years.
- Food Safety and COVID-19. FDA continues to update and make resources available to industry members and consumers on consistently changing COVID-19 pandemic topics. On October 14, 2021, FDA also put out a constituent update that encouraged food and agriculture workers to get vaccinated against flu and COVID-19.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- New HACCP Model for Raw, Non-Intact Turkey. FSIS released a Generic Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Model for Raw, Non-Intact Turkey. This model uses a ground turkey product to demonstrate hazard analysis and HACCP plan principles. While the model’s critical control points (CCPs) do not necessarily apply to all operations or products, it may serve as a starting point for any ground poultry product.
- USDA Launched a New Effort to Reduce Salmonella Illnesses Linked to Poultry. On October 19, 2021. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it is mobilizing a stronger, and more comprehensive effort to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry products. The agency is initiating several key activities to gather the data and information necessary to support future action and move closer to the national target of a 25% reduction in Salmonella illnesses.
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA plans for an additional $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. This is on top of the previously announced $500 million investment to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and to finance other food supply chain infrastructure. These investments will help deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for farmers and address bottlenecks in the food supply chain revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
- FSIS Issued Several Directives to Update Instructions Related to Egg Products Plants. Including: FSIS Directive 9900.2 (Import Reinspection of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products – Revision 2), FSIS Directive 5030.1 (Inspection Methodology Utilizing the Public Health Information System for the verification of Regulatory Compliance Egg Products Plans – Revision 3), FSIS Directive 5000.5 (Verification of Less than Daily Sanitation Procedures in Meant and Poultry Processing Operations and Egg Products Establishments – Revision 3), FSIS Directive 5000.4 (Performing the Pre-Operational Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures Verification Task – Revision 3), and FSIS Directive 5000.1 (Verifying an Establishment’s Food Safety System – Revision 6).
- EEOC Religious Exemption Question and Answer: What you Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) posted updated and expanded technical assistance (“Updated EEOC Guidance”) related to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination mandates, and religious exemption.