The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) held its first Regulatory RoundUP this week, featuring speakers representing several federal agencies. Topics included labeling, food safety, food defense, energy savings and school nutrition programs.
FDA’s Taylor praises PMO, safety of milk supply
Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Foods and Veterinary Medicine division, discussed the rulemaking and implementation activities affecting all Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules.
Taylor underscored FDA’s commitment to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), calling it the strong, unchanging, historic way that industry and government have worked together to assure the safety of milk for many years. He called pasteurization the ultimate preventive control, and noted the strength of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments ( NCIMS) framework, which offers a federal-state cooperative program and a good model for collaborating with industry. Taylor said FDA is now assessing how to implement FSMA in a way that preserves and builds on the success of the PMO.
FDA is undergoing a culture change, Taylor said, moving from a traditional approach focused on enforcement against violations to an approach that fosters compliance with standards and focuses on outcomes. The agency is considering how best to provide guidance, technical assistance and training support while conducting inspections that are flexible and more targeted based on risk.
In closing, Taylor mentioned the significant gap in funding and resources that will be necessary to implement FSMA. He said a new system based on compliance outcomes will depend on partnerships that uncover ways to leverage public and private resources to make it work.
Taylor also offered answers to several questions from the participants:
• The results of the milk sampling survey, which checked for antibiotic residues in milk, are still “in process,” although Taylor said the outcome is very reassuring about the safety of the milk supply. The question the agency is grappling with now is “what are the indications for how we continue to do our work to ensure that.” Although he didn’t mention a date, Taylor said FDA plans to release the results, with no surprises, as soon as it can.
• He acknowledged that the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts panel will take time and money, so FDA is proposing a two-year implementation period. He encouraged processors to provide factual based comments with scenarios of what FDA should be doing.