Review of the Use of Scientific Criteria and Performance Standards for Safe Food

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Food and Nutrition, Public Health
Board: Food and Nutrition Board

Activity Description

The study was conducted jointly by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine and the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources of the Division of Earth and Life Studies over a period of 14 months. The ad hoc committee was charged with defining the relationship between public health objectives and a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based approach to food safety; defining the terms "performance standards" and "criteria as related to food products and processes; recommending .Guidelines for determining the type of data that should be used in developing food safety criteria, including microbiological performance standards; and overseeing the development of two reports on the use of scientific-based criteria in relation to performance standards and HACCP: a) One on raw and processed meat and poultry, and b) a second one on raw and processed seafood, produce and related products, and dairy products.

 There were also two subcommittees, one on meat and poultry and one on seafood, produce and related products, and dairy products. Each subcommittee was charged with producing a report that evaluates the role of scientifically determined criteria, including microbiological criteria, in the production and regulation of the food groups under its charge.

Specifically, they were reviewing the extent to which microbiological performance standards are appropriate means of ensuring the safety of these products in a HACCP-based system; evaluating the scientific bases for existing USDA or FDA microbiological performance standards; and recommending improvement. In so doing, they addressed the question, What process should be used to establish these criteria so they are scientifically valid? The subcommittees also examined whether or not current USDA or FDA criteria, including microbiological performance standards, accomplish what they purport to accomplish. In so doing, they addressed the questions, Do they ensure that there is a reduction in public health hazards? Are they technically, economically, and administratively feasible?

 In addition, the subcommittees evaluated the way criteria are used under HACCP and will recommend specific changes for improvement, if any are needed. Finally, the subcommittees will report on the extent to which the current process is adequate for establishing microbiological food safety criteria, or, if necessary, identify improved ways to establish such criteria.

 The parent committee was comprised of fourteen members with expertise and background in the implementation and purpose of HACCP, public health, food regulatory processes, food science, epidemiology of foodborne diseases, statistics of process control, risk assessment of food contaminants, and microbial growth modeling.

 Each subcommittee was comprised of eight members having expertise that includes production and processing of the selected food groups (meat and poultry, produce and related products, seafood, and dairy products), food microbiology, Good Agricultural Practices, and USDA and FDA regulations. Up to five of the eight members, including the subcommittee chairs, were also members of the main committee.

 The overlap of the parent committee and the subcommittees was necessary to ensure the development of coordinated approaches to defining performance standards and methods to develop criteria in food products.


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