The August/September Food Safety Insights column continues with our survey asking food processors about their top issues and priorities. In this issue, we explore processors' "to-do" lists of projects for the next 1–2 years and the regulations or requirements that will have the biggest impacts on their programs in the near future.
In food safety, multiple issues always need to be addressed. To get things done, however, food safety professionals need to prioritize certain projects over others. What are those priorities now? The Food Safety Magazine audience shares their views on a number of topical issues to give an idea of where their focus will be in the coming months and years.
In November 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its Final Food Traceability Rule—a new rule that will have wide-reaching impact on food companies. This issue features Part 2 of the results of our survey of food processors' thoughts on this new rule and their plans for compliance.
In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its new Food Traceability Rule. The rule will apply to companies that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food on FDA's Food Traceability List (FTL), but the rule will have a wide-reaching impact on processors and suppliers that work with other foods, too. We surveyed and interviewed food processors in the U.S./Canada and around the world to get their thoughts on this new rule and how it will impact their businesses.
Advances in information technology, rapid advances in diagnostic sensitivity, and shifting regulatory requirements are changing the nature of food safety, while macroeconomic trends like globalization, competitive consolidation, and maturation of the industry are altering the structure of the markets. These trends are colliding with shorter-term disruptions like the economic recovery from COVID-19, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, making the near-term future difficult to see.
We have been monitoring the relationships between food processors and regulators for a number of years. Our attention to this topic started with the implementation of FSMA to watch the evolution of the FDA's enforcement posture, as well as inspection and sampling procedures related to the new requirements. Now that the FDA has resumed its regular in-person inspections, we asked processors: (1) whether they have had an inspection so far in 2022 and, if so, did FDA collect any samples; (2) now that processors are seeing inspectors again, do they still agree that FDA "educates before it regulates"; and (3) with their experiences from recent and previous inspections, what do processors wish that regulators understood better? This column presents answers from more than 300 food processors in every category on these and related regulatory questions.
With the COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully) solidly in the rearview mirror, we wanted to find out what projects and initiatives food companies are focusing on for the rest of this year and into 2023. We heard from more than 200 food processors in every major category. They reported a wide-ranging wish list of projects and priorities, with improving their food safety culture, more training, improving their supply chain management (especially with their foreign suppliers), and improving their sanitation and environmental monitoring programs at the top of the list.
As the issues related to COVID-19 continue to subside and more restrictions are lifted, will we see food companies return to business travel, including in-person meetings and food conferences? We asked more than 250 companies about their travel plans for 2022 and beyond to find out. Our survey found a wide variety of policies depending on the company, the location of the travel, and the purpose of the trip.
In our ongoing coverage of the supply chain crisis and how it is affecting food processors, Food Safety Insights surveyed more than 150 food processors in North America and around the world about how they are managing their recovery, the difficulties they are still coping with, what changes they have made and will be making in the future. Most processors told us that they continue to have some level of difficulty with high prices, availability of employees (including truck drivers), and supply shortages. A large majority (about 75 percent) also tell us that they plan to implement changes and to manage their supply chains differently to avoid these issues in the future.
This column will expand on the findings of the FDA study of the economic evaluation of the GenomeTrakr whole genome sequencing (WGS) program, adding data on the use of sequencing and how it will continue to change food safety practices and markets. It will also discuss what FDA is doing with GenomeTrackr to uncover previously unseen outbreaks and how this is keeping pressure on processors to expand environmental monitoring and controls.