By: Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, CFS, Chief Food and Product Safety Officer and SVP Food Safety, FMI
The food industry is entering a new, critical food marketplace that’s focused on advancing technology, digitalization and information sharing. All the while, retailers continue to prioritize the health and safety of their customers. FMI organized a meeting with the FMI Food Protection Committee to set this year’s top food safety initiatives to strengthen the industry’s leadership and commitment to protecting public health.
Listeria at Retail
Retailers continue to focus efforts on Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) prevention and control and look for novel ways to do so. Retailers are working with regulators and academics to monitor and predict the presence of Lm throughout a facility. FMI will promote the industry-wide adoption of tools and best practices, including the FMI Listeria Action Plan for Retailers and Cleaning and Sanitation Guide for Food Retail, and work to develop and evaluate additional strategies for Listeria prevention.
Since the leafy green outbreaks in 2018, FMI released the Recommended Food Safety Practices for Leafy Greens to help prevent pathogenic E. coli and Salmonella contamination, but due to ongoing food safety issues, more work needs to be done. FMI will champion member efforts to influence supplier and grower food safety practices and enhance regulatory engagement throughout the supply chain.
Consumer Advisories and Supplier Communications/Response
Retailers protect public health in foodborne outbreak events through fast and effective product removal and communications with consumers. Most consumer notifications are due to recalls, but sometimes regulatory agencies publish consumer advisory notices to alert customers about commodity-specific risks. To address operational and regulatory challenges associated with these notices, FMI will work with the entire supply chain and regulatory officials to understand the perceptions and actions, and the most effective ways to protect public health.
Smarter Food Safety
In late 2019, FMI submitted comments on the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative. The Food Protection Committee continues to focus on protecting public health and advancing food safety by working to identify opportunities to create more efficient and innovative technologies and processes.FMI Food Safety Resources