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FDA’s 2016 Priorities Include Nutrition Facts Update, Raw Milk Cheese Sampling, GRAS

The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) upcoming 2016 food-related priorities were outlined here Tuesday by Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

FDA’s accomplishments just since the beginning of March, Mayne said at the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA) Science Forum, include a final rule on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (for more details, please see “FDA Publishes Final Rule On ‘Mad Cow Disease’ In Food; Confirms That Milk Products Are Not Banned Cattle Materials,” on page 16 of our Mar. 18 issue); and a final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on sanitary transportation practices for food (for more details, please see “FDA Issues Final Rule On Sanitary Transportation Practices For Food,” on page 1 of our April 8th issue).

FDA’s upcoming priorities as far as the FSMA are concerned, Mayne said, include:
—Publishing a final rule on mitigation strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration of food, which is due by May 31, 2016; and
—Education, outreach and technical assistance on the FSMA final rules, for industry, for FDA employees, and for state and tribal partners.

FDA intends to release a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) final rule by the end of August, Mayne said. Back in April of 1997, FDA had proposed to replace the GRAS affirmation process in effect at the time with a notification procedure whereby any person could notify FDA of a determination that a particular use of a substance is GRAS.

FDA has been operating under that proposal since it was first published. In late 2010, the agency reopened the comment period on that 1997 GRAS proposal.

Once that GRAS rule is finalized, two draft guidance documents will follow, Mayne noted: what it means to be GRAS; and GRAS panels/conflicts of interest.

Priorities in the area of foodborne pathogens, include:
•Finalize a report on the pilot sampling program of raw milk cheese aged for a minimum of 60 days, sprouts, and avocados to determine microbial levels, including the presence of pathogens.
• Engage with stakeholders on compliance policies for raw milk cheese to ensure that raw milk cheese continues to be made safely.
• Review comments from the Food Advisory Committee on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods and update compliance programs, as needed. FDA’s Food Advisory Committee had met last December to discuss the agency’s policies related to the presence of Listeria

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