With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, it’s essential for the global food supply and food safety systems to keep delivering safe and quality food to consumers. Notably, the message from the FDA has been clear: “There is no evidence, as yet, regarding transmission of COVID-19 through food and food packaging.”
However, out of an abundance of caution, we recommend that the industry and public-at-large keep abreast of relevant regulatory changes and follow science-based experts’ guidelines. Furthermore, as we all look forward to the progress on the vaccines, CDC/WHO/Public Health guidelines on minimizing the virus transmission and spread will still need to be followed.
This has definitely been a year of challenges for the food industry; however, let’s take a moment to recall some of the significant developments in food safety that should positively influence the North American food safety landscape in the years to come:
- On July 13, the FDA unveiled its blueprint on the ‘New Era of Smarter Food Safety’ on creating a more digital, traceable and safer food network system to help reduce food illnesses in the U.S.
- On August 22, the FSIS-USDA held a virtual public meeting to launch the “Roadmap to Reducing Salmonella” for meat, poultry, and egg products, and also to meet part of the Healthy People 2030 goals.
- On November 18, the FDA released a new outbreak investigation tool that shall tabulate all foodborne outbreaks in an effort to initiate an early response from the FDA’s CORE (Coordinated Outbreak Response & Evaluation) team.
During the last quarter of this year, the FDA cited an inspectional violation to a manufacturing facility because of poor cleaning tool storage and use that led to RTE product cross-contamination. This reinforces the point we have been making for years that tools are vectors of contamination and so they need to be properly selected, used, cleaned, stored, and maintained.
Here is a list of key food safety-related developments to look out for in 2021:
- The FDA has just released the Proposed Rule for Food Traceability to provide the basis for additional traceability recordkeeping for certain foods based on Section 204 of FSMA. In 2021, we should expect a finalization of the rule and more guidelines, specifically on the Food Traceability List.
- SQF Edition 9 Code books were published during the latter half of 2020. In a nutshell, the new codes now reflect a more sector-specific approach, and with an emphasis on food safety culture. The new codes shall be aligned to the newest GFSI Benchmarking Documents Version 2020. SQF Edition 9 is expected to become the auditing standard from May 24, 2021 onward.
- GFSI version 2020 has also incorporated two new scopes of recognition on Hygienic Design i.e., JI and JII. We should expect more food safety system requirements regarding hygienically designed facilities, equipment, tools, and utensils in the very near future.
Important Company News:
- In order to effectively serve grocery stores, our parent company, Vikan, has launched the Food Retail line of products and solutions. To download the guide, click here.
- Remco now stocks high temperature resistant tools that can be effectively used for cleaning ovens or other heated surfaces.
- Our SQF practitioner-qualified, HACCP- and PCQI-certified Business Development Managers are now capable of conducting virtual site assessments. To request a site visit, contact us.
Remco, as a supplier of color-coded, high-quality, and durable cleaning, hygiene and material handling equipment, appreciate and wholly support the role of the food industry and the front-line workers in assuring food safety and sanitation even during these trying times.
We earnestly look forward to a healthy, prosperous, and stable 2021 for all. Meanwhile, we wish everyone happy holidays and a safe season!