FDA considers food tracking system


WASHINGTON – The U.S. government has proposed new regulations requiring elements of the food industry to maintain records that would help officials track food in case of an emergency.

The Food and Drug Administration proposed regulations May 6 that would apply to almost all foreign and domestic food sources and almost all recipients of food destined for U.S. consumption.

The rules are part of the FDA’s implementation of the Public Health and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act. The law, passed by Congress in 2002, gave the FDA new authority to protect the U.S. food supply.

Source identification. The proposal would require manufacturers, processors, packers, distributors, receivers, holders and importers of food to keep records identifying the source of the food as well as the subsequent recipient.

Transporters such as trucking companies, railroads and airlines would also be required to keep similar documentation, FDA said.

Most foreign facilities would be excluded if their food products undergo further manufacturing or processing, including packaging, by another facility outside the United States.

Ag exemption. Also exempted would be farms, restaurants, fishing vessels not engaged in processing, and firms regulated exclusively by the USDA.

To minimize the economic burden on food companies affected by the proposal, FDA’s proposals would allow companies to keep the required information in any form that they prefer.

Records for perishable foods not intended for processing into non-perishable foods, and required records for animal food including pet food, must be kept for one year from the date they were created.

Records for all other foods would have to be retained for two years after the date they were created.

FDA said it plans to publish a new final rule on record keeping a rule by Dec. 12, 2003.

More details. A fact sheet on the proposed record-keeping regulations is available on the FDA Web site at: www.fda.gov/oc/bioterrorism/records_fs.html.


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