Food Safety Task Force and FDA Officials Share Updates, Insight

Demonstrating strong public and private sector coordination, a team of industry representatives met yesterday with officials from the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to discuss the industry’s efforts in food safety training and audits. The officials answered questions on rules associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act and discussed current and upcoming assignments.

Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, and seven other members of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Food Safety Task Force opened the meeting by discussing the success of the Dairy Plant Food Safety Workshops that the industry began in 2011. The nine workshop sessions, hosted by IDFA member companies, have trained a total of 465 employees representing 131 industry organizations. Four more workshops are scheduled for this year, along with two new supply chain workshops.  In addition, four artisan/farmstead programs have been completed, and future workshops are being planned in a number of states, including Minnesota, Washington, Pennsylvania and California.

In addition to Hough, the task force members who attended were Keith Gomes, Dairy Farmers of America; Amy Jones, McLeod, Watkinson & Miller; Tom O’Connell, Marketing Concepts Inc.; Peggy Poole, HP Hood; Janet Raddatz, Sargento Foods; Joe Stout, CF Sanitation; and Edith Wilkin, Leprino Foods Company.

John Sheehan, director of the Division of Plant and Dairy Food Safety for CFSAN, led the meeting for the CFSAN team. He encouraged industry representatives to provide comments on rules related to the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially on environmental testing and finished product testing.

The officials mentioned progress on ongoing and upcoming pathogen control assignments and discussed the results of the recent National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments meeting.

In addition to Sheehan, the agency participants were Wendy Fanaselle, risk assessment project manager, dairy; Bob Hennes, team leader, Grade “A” milk safety; Monica Metz, chief, dairy and egg branch; Obianuju Nsofor, microbiologist, dairy and egg branch; and Andrew Yeung, consumer safety officer, dairy and egg branch.