USA: FDA Issues 2019 Voluntary Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards

  • FDA issued the 2019 edition of the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (“Retail Program Standards”) on November 14.  The Retail Program Standards define the key elements of an effective retail food regulatory program for state, local, tribal, and territorial food regulatory jurisdictions. The Retail Program Standards also provide recommendations for designing and managing retail food regulatory programs and help regulatory jurisdictions facilitate more effective inspections, implement foodborne illness prevention strategies, and identify program areas in need of improvement.
  • The 2019 edition incorporates changes based on recommendations discussed at the Conference for Food Protection 2018 Biennial Meeting. Such changes include updates to the standard that assists food regulatory jurisdictions in developing and implementing a program policy, as well as a new tool that helps food regulatory jurisdictions assess their food safety risk factors and interventions.
  • The Retail Program Standards are designed to help food regulatory programs enhance the services they provide to the public. When applied in the intended manner, the Program Standards should:
    • Identify program areas where an agency can have the greatest impact on retail food safety
    • Promote wider application of effective risk-factor intervention strategies
    • Assist in identifying program areas most in need of additional attention
    • Provide information needed to justify maintenance or increase in program budgets
    • Lead to innovations in program implementation and administration
    • Improve industry and consumer confidence in food protection programs by enhancing uniformity within and between regulatory agencies
  • According to the FDA, achieving national uniformity among regulatory programs responsible for retail food protection in the U.S. has long been a subject of debate among the industry, regulators, and consumers. As our readers may know, since 1993, the FDA has published the FDA Food Code, which is a model code that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating retail and food service establishments. While the adoption of the FDA Food Code has been a keystone in the effort to promote greater uniformity, the Retail Program Standards address a missing link in that uniformity by establishing recognized standards for the regulatory programs that administer the Food Code.