Research – Report finds food testing policies different between countries

Food Safety News

There are various approaches to food sampling in four nations, including the United States, as shown in a report published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Campden BRI reviewed food control systems in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.

The study looked at how authorities perform sampling and analysis of food and feed, systems for gathering intelligence, and other information which informs the sampling and testing program.

Findings suggest there is no one-size-fits-all approach as differences in planning and conducting various sampling activities were observed between the four countries.

Differing approaches
The FSA documents list three types of sampling: for official controls; hypotheses or surveillance sampling; and intelligence sampling. But the terminology used in other countries often varied.

Authorities in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States play both regulation setting and enforcement roles. However, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) sets standards and coordinates responses to food safety incidents but does not have enforcement powers.

Sharing the responsibilities between multiple agencies, which happens in the United States and Australia, may lead to differences in the extent of regulatory oversight in different parts of the country or between foods, sometimes even with similar risks, found the study.

Oversight of the entire food chain in Canada and New Zealand is mainly done by a single regulatory agency, which can facilitate the planning of sampling.

Because of resource constraints and the extensive range of products it oversees, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tends to apply a risk-based prioritization approach when planning sampling and other activities. The FDA has three types of sampling: product sampling, environmental sampling, and emergency response/emerging issues sampling.

Because products under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) jurisdiction are relatively riskier, FSIS-regulated establishments are subject to a more comprehensive oversight, according to the study.

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