Industry Needs a Return to Basics; Modernizing Current Good Manufacturing Practices

Article excerpt

Byline: Kraig R. Naasz, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

At a time of perceived gaps in food-safety regulation, the industry needs to go back to basics now more than ever. We all have seen the stories stemming from the discovery of salmonella in peanut butter products, and no one condones the purported actions of one bad actor. Still, we agree with President Obama that there are processes that can help the vast majority of food producers that follow the rules ensure a safer food supply.

One such area in need of modernization is the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (CGMPs), which were last updated in 1986. These regulations form the basis for food-safety-assurance programs in manufacturing facilities. Companies are expected to comply with these requirements in designing and implementing their food-safety systems.

The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) formed a working group in 2002 whose objective was to review whether the regulations needed modernization. Unfortunately, that process has stagnated.

At one time, there was progress in updating these practices. In 2004, when the FDA opened the process for input on the regulations for manufacturing, packing or storing food, the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) voiced our suggestions in support of FDA's efforts to update and revise the food practices. The AFFI also led the coalition in cooperation with more than 60 food-industry trade associations and food companies to respond to and work with FDA as it moved toward modernizing current practices.

This was seen as so important that the FDA commissioner at the time referred to revising the manufacturing regulations as his enduring legacy. In fact, the FDA commissioner noted in a speech that 85 percent of food recalls in a relevant study likely occurred because CGMP-related shortcomings. …