Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Safeguarding food and animal feed one of WSDA's key duties

Randy Treadwell and Ali Kashani
Animal Feed /Rapid Response Team

Protecting Washington’s food and animal feed supplies is one of the most important responsibilities of our agency. With human and animal food systems becoming more globalized, public health jurisdictions value partnerships, collaboration and sharing resources to protect consumers.

We represented our state’s animal feed regulatory program and our Washington Rapid Response Team at last month’s annual meeting of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) in Pittsburgh. Often called Washington RRT for short, our team is composed of animal feed and food safety professionals.

With our peers, we discussed ways to minimize the number of illness outbreaks related to food and feed products. Speakers from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture played a big role at the conference, updating us about federal efforts to strengthen consumer protections.

Food Safety Modernization Act

Hot topics included the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), multi-agency rapid responses to food and feed emergencies, and disease-preventive controls for human and animal food.  Representatives from the food industry provided their perspectives on new food and feed regulations and the steps they are taking to comply with federal implementation dates under FSMA.

The conference dealt with a host of topics including Whole Genome Sequencing, trends related to marijuana-infused products, avian influenza and produce safety. Of particular note was discussion related to a nationally standardized training curriculum for food and feed regulators, a venture lead by the International Food Protection Training Institute in collaboration with federal and state partners.

AFDO workshops included writing documents under pressure, communicating with the news media during foodborne illness incidents and a leadership development workshop. Many of the presentations are available on the AFDO website.

The world of food and animal feed regulation continues to evolve as products become more complex and are distributed to a wider consumer network. Implementation of new regulations such as FSMA will be a considerable undertaking. Regulatory and food industry partners are taking an active part in shaping a modern integrated food and feed safety system.

We believe that outreach to the food industry and other regulatory bodies, getting to know our partners, and sharing information on best practices will help prevent outbreaks and improve response our time in emergencies.