FDA issues strategic plan for risk communication

The US FDA last month issued its Strategic Plan for Risk Communication, which outlines the agency’s efforts to disseminate more meaningful health information. The plan also lays out a framework for FDA to provide information about FDA-regulated products to health care professionals, patients and consumers in the form they need it and when they need it, and for how the agency oversees industry communications.

The plan defines three key areas-FDA’s science base, its operational capacity and its policy and processes-in which strategic actions can help improve the FDA’s communication about the risks and benefits of regulated products. The plan also identifies more than 70 specific actions for the FDA to take over the next five years, including 14 that the agency commits to accomplishing over the next year. They include:

  • Developing a “library” of multimedia communications on safe food practices for general education purposes and for use with crisis communications concerning food contamination episodes
  • Posting pictures of FDA-regulated products affected by Class I or high-priority Class II recalls as part of recall notices/information
  • Developing an expert model to characterize tobacco-use related consumer decision-making and better understand the likely impact of FDA oversight of tobacco products
  • Producing a research agenda for public dissemination
  • Creating and maintaining a useful, easily accessible internal database of FDA and other relevant risk communication research
  • Developing detailed action plans at the agency and center levels for implementing and achieving the proposed action steps, including timelines, responsibilities and resource needs.
The plan reflects the FDA’s belief that risk communications must be adapted to the needs of different audiences and should be evaluated to ensure effectiveness. The plan also focuses on improving two-way communication through enhanced partnerships with government and non-government organizations, and focuses on policies that affect areas of high public health impact.

Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation

Food & beverage industry backs national objective to reduce obesity

Launched recently, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a national multi-year effort to help reduce obesity-especially childhood obesity-by 2015, is a coalition consisting of major food and beverage processors, retailers and non-government organizations (NGOs). The HWCF will promote ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance. The initiative focuses on three critical areas: the marketplace, workplace and schools.

HWCF members have already committed $20 million to this joint initiative. The programs seek to raise awareness and increase the understanding of balancing a healthy diet with physical activity, particularly among children ages six to 11, and their parents and caregivers. The Foundation’s efforts will be monitored and evaluated by an independent group that will publicly report its findings. The HWCF consists of a combination of 40 companies and partner organizations, including the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition Foundation, PE4Life, the American Dietetic Association Foundation, and others.

Key participants in the first organizational meeting included:

  • Lisa Gable, executive director, Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
  • David Mackay, president and chief executive officer, Kellogg Company; chairman of the board, Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer, PepsiCo; vice chair and member of the board, Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation
  • Dan Sanders, chief executive officer, United Supermarkets
  • Craig Rupert, principal, Woodland Elementary School, Kansas City.

 For more information, visit HWCF on the Web.

Poultry producers challenge EU delays in opening trade barrier

The Office of the US Trade Representative is being jointly urged by four concerned poultry industry groups to have the World Trade Organization (WTO) determine if a major barrier to US poultry exports to the European Union is a violation of WTO rules. In a September 24 letter to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the National Chicken Council (NCC), USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, National Turkey Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers re-confirmed their strong support for US Trade Representative action that would result in a WTO dispute settlement panel that addresses the EU’s blocking action against four antimicrobials that reduce pathogens during poultry processing.

The four antimicrobials, according to Richard Lobb, NCC director of communications, are chlorine dioxide, trisodium phosphate, acidified sodium chlorite and perecetic acid (peroxyacid). These chemicals have been approved by the EU scientific advisory board, but have not been approved by the EU at the political level, says Lobb.

In the letter to Kirk, the groups noted that early in 2009, WTO dispute settlement consultations were held with the EU in an attempt to move the EU toward official approval of the four antimicrobials that are FDA/USDA-approved and have been proven in the US and EU to be safe and efficacious in reducing pathogens on poultry. Since the official consultations earlier this year resulted in no resolution of the issue, the poultry producers feel it is now “most appropriate to take the issue to the next step in the WTO dispute settlement panel process, namely requesting that the issue be addressed by a WTO dispute settlement panel.”

While the use of the four antimicrobials was found to be safe in terms of human consumption of cooked poultry by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA Journal (2005) 297, 1-27), a further question was raised concerning the potential emergence of antimicrobial resistance to the four chemicals. The European Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) was tasked with finding the answer by the end of March, 2008.

In its final report in April of 2008, SCENIHR found: “Limited specific evidence on the potential of these treatments to produce bacterial resistance, if used on poultry carcasses, is currently available. Nevertheless, the chemicals are able to select less susceptible strains of salmonella and some other pathogens. There is insufficient data to determine whether they may cause cross resistance to antibiotics or the selection of specific microbial groups associated to resistance.”

SCENIHR also found: “There is an environmental concern about the possibility that resistant strains could be disseminated or selected in the waste waters and the general environment. In addition to the human health risk, the production of bacterial resistance is relevant for the environmental impact assessment. Additional information is needed for a proper assessment of these issues and the environmental consequences. This cannot be covered in this opinion due to the lack of available information.”

The EC had appointed a Panel on Biological Hazards, which found no published data to conclude the application of the four biocides to poultry carcasses, “will lead to the occurrence of acquired reduced susceptibility to these substances. Similarly, there are currently no published data to conclude that the application of chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate or peroxyacids to remove microbial contamination of poultry carcasses at the proposed conditions of use will lead to resistance to therapeutic antimicrobials.”

According to the NCC, US poultry exports to the EU have been banned since 1997. If the EU were an eligible market for US poultry, it is estimated that annual poultry exports would top $300 million.

ERP drives operational value

Mid-sized companies will look to enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to drive more value by standardizing, streamlining and automating business processes.


State of food manufacturing

Food and beverage companies feel the effects of a sour economy, though industry professionals see opportunities in market shifts.

Forecasts to believe in

Product velocity through the checkout line may be the best indicator of tomorrow’s production needs, and food companies are getting closer to accessing that data and other demand metrics. 

Tech Update: Filling equipment

Faced with changing consumer demands, processors require quick turnarounds, accurate fills and decreasing energy costs.

Dehydration redux

Applying microwave energy in a vacuum to dry or dehydrate foods has a checkered past, but a Canadian scientist believes he has solved the challenges.

People, Plant and Industry News

The Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) and PepsiAmericas (PAS), PepsiCo will form a new entity comprising the bottling businesses, effective upon closing of pending mergers. The new unit will be called PepsiCo Bottling North America (PBNA). Eric J. Foss, current chairman and CEO of PBG, the world’s largest bottler of PepsiCo beverages, will become CEO of the new bottling unit.


PepsiCo Inc. appointed Jaya Kumar as president – Quaker Foods & Snacks.


Archer Daniels Midland Company expanded its European oilseed processing capabilities with the acquisition of ViaChem Group’s oilseed processing assets in Olomouc, Czech Republic.


Kraft Foods intends to invest 15 million euros (approximately $20 million) in constructing a new Biscuit Research & Development Center in Saclay, France, a suburb of Paris.


Ventura Foods appointed Christopher Furman as its new president and CEO. Furman succeeds retiring President and CEO Richard Mazer.