An alternative to FDA inspections would be states performing the legally mandated inspections, but the states would have to hire and/or train inspectors and manage the process, adds Cook. Another option would be the FDA’s acceptance of certified inspections by a third party using, for example, GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative)-benchmarked standard audits.
FSMA has brought with it several questions regarding US processors’ compliance with Codex Alimentarius, especially if food is imported from the EU or exported to the members of the EU. The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the United Nations’ FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Program.
“Codex is strictly a voluntary program and does not directly affect the laws in the
“USDA and US FDA worked closely with the other countries to formulate these Codex Standards,” says Cook. “Codex Standards will only increase the quality and safety of food in a country if the standard is adopted in full by that country.”
Under FSMA, electronic track-and-trace records will become crucial to safer food. While the use of RFID tags has helped make track and trace easier, it hasn’t been a total solution, partly because smaller processors can’t afford the necessary computer-based system, says Cook. And while FDA has a reporting system for contaminated food, it’s not the ultimate solution either. A cloud-based computer database system could serve the developed world that has access to computers, allowing vital information on products and shipments to be uploaded. But unfortunately, in much of the world where produce is grown and shipped, computers are nonexistent, and the cloud solution is terribly impractical, says Cook. “Under the FSMA, even the simple FDA [reporting] system will explode with information, with more personnel being required to report information on contaminants and recalls,” he adds.While there has been considerable progress, we are still a long way off-from even having a domestic government-sponsored track and trace program, says Cook.