By: Howard Sklamberg
In an effort to complement our conversations about the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in the United States, FDA is reaching out to our international partners and stakeholders to discuss implementation of this historic food safety law.
I recently visited India, accompanied by Andrew Stephens from the Office of Food and Veterinary Medicine, and Ritu Nalubola, Ph.D., with the Commissioner’s Office of Policy. We had extensive discussions with our regulatory counterparts in the Indian government and with key food industry officials.
India is the seventh largest supplier of food to the United States. The Indian food products that end up on the dinner tables of Americans every night — including shrimp, spices, and rice — reflect the increasing globalization of our country’s food supply.
Many of these goods come from any of India’s 29 states, produced by thousands of different companies. Such dispersion and volume makes FDA’s close engagement with our Indian counterparts necessary, especially on the export-related parts of FSMA.
Our most recent trip to India follows a similar trip in March 2015 when Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, joined me to introduce FSMA to a wide variety of Indian stakeholders.
On that trip, we explained that FSMA mandates a food safety system that is preventive, rather than reactive. FSMA requires that foreign food producers meet U.S. safety standards.
At that time, we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of India to engage in regulatory, scientific, and public health protection matters related to food products.
Building upon our 2015 trip, and upon the great work of FDA’s India office, our recent meetings focused on three FSMA rules of vital significance to India stakeholders: Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food; Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals; and Accreditation of Third-Party Certification Bodies To Conduct Food Safety Audits and To Issue Certifications. The overview my FDA team provided was very useful to our Indian counterparts, many of whom have been engaged with FDA’s India Office in learning the details of the new mandates for exporters.
I finished my trip with remarks to the World Spice Congress. As I noted there, the food system grows more global and trade-driven every year, which means we grow more dependent every year on collaboration and real partnership between government and industry across national boundaries.
We all have three goals: We want food to be safe. We want consumers to have confidence. And we want food safety and consumer confidence to enhance trade between nations. FSMA will help us achieve all three.
Howard Sklamberg is FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Global Regulatory Operations and Policy