To help US food, feed and petfood producers be prepared to meet new regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act and prevent foodborne illnesses, the US Food and Drug Administration has announced a new Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance. Forged from a partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute for Food Safety and Health, the alliance's mission is to develop training courses and materials aimed at preventing contamination of human and animal food during production, FDA says.

 

 

FDA adds that these courses and materials are intended to especially help small and medium-size companies comply with the new preventive control rules to come under FSMA. You can read the specifics about the alliance and its goals and judge for yourself whether this is a positive step. (The FDA release says the alliance is funded by a US$1 million grant to the Institute for Food Safety and Health; it doesn't name the source of the grant.)

 

 

I take this as a sign that FDA is at least trying to respond to concerns from industry (human, feed and petfood) that new regulations under FSMA will hurt the "little guys" (smaller producers) the most, because many don't have the resources -- finances, personnel or knowledge -- to comply. But that impression on my part is strongly bolstered by a conversation I had with someone on the staff of Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner of foods for FDA and the person in charge of all food safety in the US. (In other words, he's mainly responsible for how FSMA gets implemented.)

 

 

Taylor will be the closing keynote speaker for Petfood Forum 2012. While discussing the logistics of his appearance with this staff member, she asked me questions about the petfood industry to help him prepare a targeted presentation. One of her questions was really interesting: She wanted to know how our industry is receiving FSMA, proposed regulations and information released to date.

 

 

I was honest and said there is a good deal of apprehension -- in part because so much is still unknown, but also because many petfood manufacturers fear onerous and expensive new rules. I said this is particularly a concern for smaller producers. Her response was immediate: The rules pertaining to small businesses under FSMA would be released by early April (Taylor will speak at Petfood Forum on Wednesday, April 4), and she was certain he would want to address those rules and what they mean for smaller producers.

 

 

Petfood Industry will continue to report on new rules, regulations and developments from FDA as they're announced, so stay tuned. Also, consider registering for Petfood Forum. In addition to Taylor's closing keynote, Daniel McChesney, PhD, director of the Office of Surveillance & Compliance for FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine -- which is instrumental in FDA and FSMA rules and regulations covering petfood -- will also be speaking, addressing details of those petfood-specific rules.

 

 

 

Plus, a number of organizations are offering new certification and validation programs to help petfood producers comply with FSMA, and Petfood Forum will include a panel comprising members of some of those organizations. (If you register by February 1, you'll save up to 15%.)