Recently food regulatory agencies have moved to using genomics for regulation

Contributed by Bart C. Weimer, PhD

Recently food regulatory agencies have moved to using genomics for regulation. Coupled to that move the FDA announced finalization of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program using the authority extended to them via FSMA. These two major changes impact the food industry in complex ways that bring about the use of genomics for food safety. 

The new rule also obligates food processors (exporters and importers) to meet the food safety rules of the U.S. as well as maintain a record of their program to meet this new rule. While the FDA only inspects up to 2% of imported food at the borders and ports, importers will be required to maintain the program and evaluate the program every three years. Since the U.S. imports ~50% of fresh fruit and ~20% fresh vegetables, this program will be especially impactful for these sectors. This new rule hopes to ensure the same safety as the locally produced products. We need to wait and see if this comes about in three to four years. Cross your fingers and get the genome sequencers ready to test this experiment in food safety. 

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