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FDA introduces pilot programs to improve methods of identifying foodborne illness sources

Each year, outbreaks of foodborne illness sicken 48 million Americans and kill 3,000, and force large-scale recalls of eggs, peanut butter and other foods. In an effort to determine the most effective techniques for tracing back tainted food to its source, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has joined forces with the Institute of Food Technologists and launched two new pilot programs.

Food Safety News reports:

The pilots are mandated by the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires FDA to implement a set of record-keeping requirements for companies that produce high-risk foods in order to improve the traceability of these products.

Two food categories - produce and processed foods - will be assessed, one by each program, in order to determine the most efficient ways to record and communicate product information.

The pilots will be conducted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), which last year released a recommended set of traceback guidelines to FDA. These two new studies will serve as guidance for FDA as it develops its proposed rules for food industry record-keeping.

An IFT release states that the projects will be completed in 2012. After the pilots are completed and additional data is collected, the FDA will initiate rulemaking on recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods to facilitate tracing. There will be three public meetings during the comment period on the proposed rule, according to an FDA release.

Previously: USDA to launch campaign on food safety, List grades best and worst states for food poisoning, Report shows high costs of foodborne illnesses and Image of the Week: The public health costs of Salmonella
Photo by Alan Hudson Photography

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