ARLINGTON, VA. — In an effort to help member companies efficiently implement new federal rules designed to protect the food supply from intentional adulteration, the North American Millers’ Association has suggested a collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration on model food defense plans and supplemental educational materials.
The millers’ association submitted its suggestions Dec. 17 in response to the “Draft guidance: Mitigation strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration,” issued June 20 to help food companies develop and implement written food defense plans as required by law. That document includes examples, explanations and clarifications the association said will help its member companies to higher rates of compliance and enhanced food protection.
But NAMA also suggested additional steps for further education and guidance to ensure the least burdensome implementation of the regulations for its member companies, which represent more than 90% of the total milling industry capacity.
“In the milling industry, there is substantial similarity between processing operations,” the association wrote. “As such, for our industry it would be inefficient for each operation to independently conduct a vulnerability assessment.”
Instead, the association proposed a collaboration with the F.D.A. to create a vulnerability assessment template customizable to member operations. A second proposal seeks “a specified list of example mitigation strategies for actionable process steps” likely to be present in milling facilities.
“This would help illustrate to our members the options available while providing them flexibility to choose the mitigation strategy that is the most appropriate in their particular circumstances,” NAMA said.
The Final Rule for Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law Jan. 4, 2011, by President Barack Obama.
The final rule “is aimed at preventing intentional adulteration from acts intended to cause wide-scale harm to public health, including acts of terrorism targeting the food supply,” the F.D.A. said. “Such acts, while not likely to occur, could cause illness, death, and economic disruption of the food supply absent mitigation strategies.”
The millers’ association acknowledged the sensitivity of documents such as the template and mitigation strategies and suggested password-protected web sites or release during industry workshops.
In requesting the opportunity for further dialogue with the F.D.A., NAMA noted “the grain milling industry has a long history of working in conjunction and alongside federal agencies to collaborate, develop and educate on regulations and standards that impact our industry.”