Federal agency postpones feed mill inspection to minimize social contact during COVID-19
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has temporarily discontinued enforcement of portions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including required feed mill inspections, for the duration of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced last week that the FDA would temporarily postpone all routine inspections to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of FDA staff. For-cause inspections and any other assignments deemed mission critical will continue, according to an FDA spokesperson. The temporary inspection policy applies to all facilities processing food, animal feed, drugs, biological products and tobacco.
The FDA has also indicated that it will not enforce supplier verification activities required under FSMA during the pandemic, as these requirements often require on-site auditing, sampling and testing.
Under FSMA, facilities that receive animal food ingredients are required to verify the origin and safety of those ingredients as part of the hazard analysis under the Preventative Controls for Animal Food rule. Required on-site verification will not be required during the COVID-19 crisis so long as other verification methods are used, according to a temporary policy outlined in last week’s Guidance for Industry.
Travel restrictions and advisories going into effect to slow the spread of COVID-19 could potentially render these on-site audits impractical, according to the FDA announcement. Consequently, the FDA crafted a temporary policy for the duration of the crisis in order to minimize supply chain disruption.
“The policy released today will help to minimize disruptions so that the food industry can meet the demand while also continuing to conduct supplier verification activities that are designed to ensure food safety and following government travel restrictions and advisories,” Hahn said in a statement.
The FDA has indicated that receiving facilities and importers will be expected to resume on-site audits “within a reasonable period of time after it becomes practicable to do so.” The administration said it will provide timely notice before reinstating enforcement.