FDA Aims to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response

The goal is to improve the identification, sources and causes of foodborne illness outbreaks.

December 13, 2021

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ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan to enhance the speed, effectiveness, coordination and communication of investigations into outbreaks of foodborne illness.

“The goal is to improve our ability to identify the sources and causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. These improvements will help to reduce the number of foodborne outbreaks that go unsolved and ultimately bend the curve of foodborne illness in this country,” wrote the FDA in a statement.

The Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan is intended to work alongside the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, which outlines the agency’s plans to create a more digital, traceable and safer food safety system.

“Observations by and recommendations from FDA leadership and staff across the foods program played a key role in the development of the outbreak improvement plan,” wrote the FDA. “The plan was also informed by an independent review of the FDA’s structural and functional capacity to support, participate in or lead multistate foodborne illness outbreak investigation activities.”

In early 2022, the FDA will hold a webinar to walk stakeholders through the plan and to respond to questions.

Earlier this month, the FDA issued a proposed rule to enhance produce. The rule would require farms to conduct comprehensive assessments that would help them identify and mitigate hazards in water used to grow produce. This is the latest step in the agency’s implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and it proposes to replace some of the existing requirements for agricultural water in the Produce Safety Rule.

NACS recently held a free webinar on how to build a strong and effective food safety and cleanliness culture. The webinar, “The Case for Cleanliness,” is available to view on demand.