FDA to move towards risk-based inspections

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Import Fda

Inspections of imported food are likely to be "risk based" as the
US Food and Drug Administration changes its approach.

Risk based inspections could reduce the time shipments but the proposals could require importers and manufacturers to provide more information to officials.

The focus of the proposals is to move the FDA towards shipments that pose the greatest risk to food safety.

The enable the proposed system to work efficiently, the said it will need to collect more information from overseas on how food is processed and handled.

This information will then be collated into the a database for inspectors to assess.

At present US inspectors are expected to protect the food supply from dangerous imports with little information on the imports in advance.

Over a decade, food imports have tripled, while the FDA budget has increased marginally.

As a result the number of inspectors has dwindled and as little as one per cent of imported shipments are now subject to official checks.

David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection, said the change in operations is expected to occur within two months.

"The shift is to be more proactive, to put more focus on prevention ," he said.

The plan, which has yet to be finalized, is likely to include several elements from a 2002 FDA blueprint that did not materialize into practice, according to current and past FDA officials.

The 2002 Import Strategic Plan, proposed a move to a risk-management approach in which products from countries with mixed or questionable safety records would receive closer scrutiny.

The resurgence of the proposals comes only weeks after Chinese imports of pet food and feed were found to contain a banned chemical.

Related topics Food safety & quality

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