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FDA Releases Report On Foodborne Illness Risks

November 6, 2000

Association points out that industry has adhered to preventative guidelines for years

The(FDA) recently released a report designed to establish a national baseline for determining compliance with FDA Food Code recommendations as they relate to foodborne illness factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ServSafe ® program, the restaurant indus-try has been educating and training employees about the importance of the CDC-identified food safety risk factors for over two decades.

NRA staff attended an agency meeting following the Oct. 27 release of the “Report of the FDA Retail Food Program Database of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors” to outline industry concerns.

“Though passed off as new, the industry, through analysis of CDC data, has recognized the risk factors identified in the report for more than 25 years,” says Association Vice President of Health and Safety Regulatory Affairs Steve Grover. “In fact, the CDC-designated foodborne illness risk factors of food from inadequate cooking, improper holding temperature, contaminated equipment, and poor personal hygiene have been the focus for all restaurant industry, food-safety train-ing programs for the past 20 years.”

“We firmly believe that food safety is non-negotiable,” adds Grover. “Our Educational Foundation’s ServSafe ® training program is recognized by more local government agencies than any other, and has certified more than 1 million restaurant managers in food safety. It is a certification program that focuses on the key elements of food safety.”

Representing an industry of more than 831,000 restaurant locations, the NRA holds a vested interest in food safety.

During the meeting, NRA pointed out that the baseline statistics contained in the report are neither representative of the entire restaurant industry nor any segment of the industry. In addition, the report reveals only a snapshot of compliance with specific recommendations of the FDA Model Food Code, which has yet to be adopted by most states.

For example, 45° F is the maximum refrigeration temperature identified by 41° F as its maximum for “out of compliance.” Consequently, FDA’s criteria for “out of compliance” and the subjective evaluations in the report have not been fully agreed upon by most regula-tory authorities or the industry.

According to the FDA researchers, no conclusions regarding state food law compliance or food safety can be drawn from the report.

“We are encouraged that FDA is now focusing attention on the risk factors that we have addressed as paramount for decades,” says Grover. “We hope that FDA will begin to work with the industry to focus on the greatest issues of concern and gain wider acceptance of uniform, risk-based food safety criteria in regulatory inspections.

Source: Washington Weekly-NRA

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