The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it plans to test cucumbers and hot peppers in November of 2015 as it develops a microbiological surveillance sampling model to prevent contamination. The agency said it will collect imported samples from ports of entry (where foreign goods are cleared for entry into the country) and domestic and import samples from packing houses, manufacturers and distributors within the U.S. (Click here to view the press release.)
The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act is based on preventing problems before they happen, rather than solely responding to outbreaks of foodborne illness. In order to develop prevention-based systems, data is needed to help identify hazards.
This new proactive and preventive approach was developed in 2014 and is part of FDA’s efforts to further protect the food supply by keeping contaminated food from reaching consumers. The FDA said it will publicly share the data it receives through this approach and will engage stakeholders throughout the process.
Surveillance sampling is just one type of sampling that is important for food safety. There are different kinds of sampling, and the methods that the FDA uses fall into three broad categories: environmental, product, and emergency response/emerging issues sampling.
Editors Insight: Pathogen testing marks an important step in the FDA’s efforts to improve food safety. What’s not clear is how long it will take for the agency to actually conduct these tests and make them available on its website.
The agency says it will release test results on its website, and as of today, the results of the results of the avocado and sprout tests were not published on the agency’s website.
Dave Gombos, senior vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, told The Packer the agency has been inconsistent in releasing test results. 11-25-15 By Elliot Maras