USDA Food Safety Policy Update
USDA Food Safety Policy Update
Remarks as prepared for delivery by Dr. David Goldman, Assistant Administrator OPHS, Food Safety Summit Town Hall Meeting, Rosemont, Illinois, May 12, 2016
Good morning and thank you for being here today. I’m Dr. David Goldman, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Health Science at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. I also serve as USDA’s Acting Chief Medical Officer.
Today I will provide you with a few regulatory updates and discuss some priorities for collaboration. After that, I can take any questions you might have.
As FSIS continues to modernize, it’s important that we work together with industry and our federal partners to stop multistate foodborne disease outbreaks and to continue making food safer. I’m glad to be here with colleagues from CDC, AFDO, and FDA. The relationship that FSIS has with these partners is vital. By working together, we have been able to achieve more of our goals than we would as individual agencies.
FSIS, FDA, CDC, and AFDO all share the important goal of safeguarding our nation’s food supply. One way that FSIS, FDA, and CDC have worked together is with our Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), which was created in 2011.
IFSAC brings together senior leaders and technical experts on food safety attribution from CDC, FDA, and FSIS to improve coordination of Federal food safety analytic efforts and address cross-cutting priorities for food safety data collection, analysis, and use.
The agencies have also worked together on other areas like the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, PulseNet, Whole Genome Sequencing, and Food Defense, to name a few.
Our agencies share many of the same initiatives and goals. I will now discuss a few of FSIS’ new policy initiatives.
Upcoming Policy Initiatives
Since FSIS regulates meat, poultry, and processed egg products, one of our key priorities is to modernize the way we inspect these products in order to more proactively eliminate pathogens in our food supply.
One of the ways the Agency has modernized is through the New Poultry Inspection System, which allows poultry slaughter establishments to sort their own product for quality defects before presenting it to FSIS inspectors for food safety inspections.
So far, there are over 40 chicken plants and over 10 turkey plants that have opted into the New Poultry Inspection System.This number represents about 20% of the federally-inspected establishments that slaughter young chickens and turkeys.
With NPIS, food safety inspectors are now better equipped to verify that establishments maintain effective HACCP systems by increasing their food safety and sanitation tasks, which is a more effective and efficient way to use our inspection resources.
FSIS is continuing to modernize and the Agency is looking at a similar approach for hog slaughter. There are currently 5 hog slaughter establishments participating in the HACCP based inspection models project (HIMP). A draft risk assessment is being finalized as well as analysis of hog HIMP plant data.We expect to have a proposed rule for the hog HIMP program soon. This approach will be informed by modernization in other areas. It will be based on sound science and data. For example, one thing that we’ve gained a better appreciation of, through the process of modernizing poultry inspection, is using testing at multiple points through the production process to measure process control.
While FSIS does not have a HIMP-style project for beef, the Agency continues to identify ways of modernizing beef slaughter. FSIS has concluded a year-long beef carcass baseline survey and should publish a report this summer. Over the course of this survey, FSIS personnel collected samples at two points in the production process. First, immediately after hide removal but before evisceration and then at pre-chill, after antimicrobial interventions are applied. This survey is part an overall effort aimed at improving sanitary dressing procedures and slaughter controls by analyzing both process control and the effect of interventions. We may use the survey to develop a guidance document, or performance standards, and the Agency may also use it to inform future testing.
New performance Standards
This past February, the Agency released new final standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as in raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings. This approach to poultry inspection is based on science, supported by strong data, and will truly improve public health.
For chicken parts, ground chicken, and ground turkey, FSIS is finalizing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to achieve at least a thirty percent reduction in illnesses from Salmonella, in alignment with overall Healthy People 2020 goals
USDA expects these actions to prevent as many as 50,000 foodborne illnesses annually.
Whole genome sequencing
One other way that we are looking at modernizing is through the use of Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). This year, our budget request for FY2017 focused on advancements in Whole Genome Sequencing, Advanced Analytics, and Expanded Lab Analysis (a total of $8.5M).
Scientific advances in Whole Genome Sequencing and lab analysis will further increase the quality and quantity of data that we can use to reduce foodborne illnesses.
FSIS’ Advanced Analytics initiative is improving FSIS’s ability to analyze current and past data and helping our analysts in turning it into useful information.
By sequencing the genomes of foodborne pathogens we can characterize them in a timelier manner, just as PFGE did when introduced 20 years ago; making laboratory surveillance more efficient and useful.
FSIS is currently running Whole Genome Sequencing on all outbreak-associated isolates, Listeria and E. coli (O157 and STEC). For Salmonella and Campylobacter, WGS is done on all NARMS cecal isolates, and we are increasing our analysis of HACCP verification isolates.
FSIS is planning to perform WGS analyses in all FSIS Field Service Labs in the next two years, and 100% sequencing of all isolates in FY17.
The Agency has also identified sampling gaps for product classes and pathogens that need to be addressed—e.g., pork cuts, minor species, and certain product types. This knowledge will potentially allow FSIS to establish new standards and rules and to help better direct future efforts at determining better ways to improve food safety.
When combined, Whole Genome Sequencing and Advanced Analytics should help us to greatly decrease illnesses by informing our enforcement activities and our policies. Strict enforcement and better policies will provide an incentive to companies to redouble their efforts to make sure that the products that they produce are safe. In turn, this will result in fewer illnesses.
FSIS’ commitment to modernizing scientific approaches to food safety is based on the tremendous advances being made in food safety technology.
We have learned that by adopting these new and innovative advances, we will be able to strategically improve food safety. FSIS is experimenting with new ways to view and combine information in order to glean fresh insights into issues and more effectively target potential sources/causes of illnesses.
I know that AFDO, FDA, and CDC, all share similar priorities and the work that we discuss today will allow us to continue advancement in food safety modernization.
Thank you for your time and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have now.