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The U.S Food and Drug Administration is coming up with a New Era Smarter Food Safety. This is a strategic blueprint that is aimed at protecting the nation’s food supply by building on over a decade of old-fashioned Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This marks a new beginning in the safety of food with regard to the adoption of technology and other tools to make the supply chain not only traceable but transparent as well. It aims at reducing the illnesses that are caused by food by enhancing traceability, improving response to outbreaks, enhancing predictive analytics. It also seeks to address the changing business models and establish strong food safety cultures.

This blueprint takes over from where FSMA has left. FSMA has played a critical role in helping ensure that food is safe and foodborne diseases are prevented by using risk-based standards, that are based on scientific methods. With the authority that FSMA grants, a flexible framework that changes the food environment can be adopted. The new transition shows the commitment that the FDA is making to the food industry and the American people. It indicates the desire to work fast, effectively to help the country realize that the food system is the safest and the most transparent in the world.

According to the FDA, ensuring safety in the food system is part of a wider scheme to use modern technologies that are already in use in other industries. Some of these technologies are already revolutionizing some aspects of the food industry, which include production, supply, and delivery of food. FDA is counting on traceability, that is enabled by technology to address the key challenges that are encountered in the food supply chain, that include food poisoning and other related illnesses that are caused by the consumption of specific foods.  Using technology correctly will ease the process of tracking down contaminated food in the supply chain to the source in minutes, a process that usually takes days, weeks, or even months.

Through the new efforts being undertaken by the FDA, companies are encouraged to adopt new technology-based efforts that allow them to follow food from farm to the table. However, the biggest challenge is using the same data standards across government and industry that will help in this process. With the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has brought, it has emerged that supply chain visibility is crucial at all times. The virus has led to unprecedented issues in the supply chain, most of which are due to a lack of visibility. It has become apparent that widespread traceability in the supply chain will eliminate some of these challenges

Building from the challenges and past experiences, Food and Drug Agency will be capable of anticipating the imbalances in the food supply chain and a marketplace that often results in temporary shortages of food and other related commodities. It also helps reduce food waste, that occurs when customers reduce during temporary closures of institutions such as schools, restaurants, and others as it is in the current world affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, improved traceability and employing analytical tools will help spot potential problems earlier and help FDA reduce the impact on the market.

The blueprint intends to strengthen FDA's procedures and protocols for carrying out root cause analysis of finding out how specific food became contaminated and enhance understanding on how to prevent that from happening again. FDA is now conducting a pilot test that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the review of imported foods at the country’s port of entry to ensure that they comply with the food safety standard in the U.S.

With technology such as AI and machine learning, among others, the FDA will be in a better position to secure food supply and build a chain that is traceable and transparent. It will also build a strong partnership between state, county, and national food safety agencies while also improving information sharing.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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