On April 30, 2019, Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas announced a “New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” an effort intended to combine the implementation of FSMA with the use of new and emerging technologies. This new approach will start with the development of a “Blueprint for a New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” which will address several areas of food safety, including traceability, digital technologies, and evolving food business models.
Food Traceability – According to FDA, food safety is a “never-ending race to detect and respond to problems, while continually assessing better ways to prevent them.” Currently, many in the food system utilize paper-based traceability systems. FDA’s new era of smarter food safety will explore and evaluate new technologies that may upgrade our abilities to rapidly track and trace food through the supply chain. FDA intends for this work to support and align with other trace and track agency efforts, such as the pilot programs focused on tracking the movement of medicines throughout the supply chain.
Digital Technologies – FDA intends to also look at how to leverage emerging technologies that are currently being used in other business sectors, such as distributed ledgers, sensors, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. For example, FDA plans to conduct a new pilot that will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to explore new ways to enhance the agency’s review of imported foods at ports of entry.
Evolving Food Business Models – With the rise of e-commerce food business models, FDA intends to explore areas for collaboration in this space in order to identify the appropriate standard when it comes to food safety challenges and regulatory oversight.
The FDA announcement emphasized the importance of collaboration between the private and public sectors to ensure food safety. FDA intends to hold a public meeting later this year to discuss smarter food safety efforts and to seek stakeholder input on FDA’s overall strategy and initiatives. We will continue to monitor and report on any updates regarding the “New Era of Smarter Food Safety.”