National governments are responsible for implementing food regulations in their particular country. For countries that don’t have the resources or infrastructure to develop their own regulations, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization Food Standards Programme, known as the Codex Alimentarius, develops harmonized international food standards utilizing a transparent, science based process to ensure food safety/quality and fair trade. For more information on Codex and its many Committees, click here. Food ingredient manufacturers participate in this process through membership in organizations that hold non-governmental organization with Codex. Their role is critical to providing technical expertise and scientific information to inform Codex decision-making.
Food Regulation in the U.S.
In the United States, food is regulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). FSIS is responsible for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and egg products. FDA is responsible for all other foods that are produced, marketed, sold and consumed in the U.S., including food ingredients and food additives.
U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act
U.S. food additives are regulated under the Food Additives Amendment of 1958, which enhance the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by creating a definition for food additives and establishing a process whereby substances can be considered “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS. This is based on general recognition by qualified experts that deem the substance as safe under the conditions of its intended use in foods or beverages. The Food Additives Amendment has been updated periodically since 1958 to reflect changes in the marketplace and in food technology.
On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed into law the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The law initiated a significant shift in how food safety is addressed in the U.S. Rather than managing food safety incidents after they occur, FSMA requires a more proactive approach to identify potential hazards and implement preventative measures to reduce the risks that such incidents will occur. The law also provides the FDA with new enforcement authorities to foster compliance, respond to food safety incidents more effectively and quickly, enhance oversight and management of imported foods, and build partnerships with state and local authorities who will have significant compliance and enforcement responsibilities under the law. The FDA has recognized the importance of partnering with the food industry to ensure a safe food supply, and has done an excellent job communicating relevant FSMA provisions to stakeholders while seeking public feedback. For more information about FSMA, please visit www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/.
IFAC strongly supports all efforts to strengthen the safety of the food supply, including FSMA and other recently issued national food safety laws such as the Safe Foods For Canadians Act. However, IFAC also recognizes that many of these laws have been developed with finished food products versus food ingredients in mind. Therefore, IFAC has been an active participant in the development of FSMA to offer technical expertise in how the law and its implementing regulations can best be applied to food ingredients.