Core Guiding Principles of a Food Control System: Part 3
Food Safety Network (FSN) is releasing an eight-part blog series on different technical topics from the Food Safety Distance Learning Module, focusing on the core guiding principles of a food control system. These principles were selected based upon the internationally accepted guidance of Codex and founded upon the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Assuring domestic food safety is becoming increasingly challenging with the growing demand and complexity of agricultural production. From improper agricultural practices to misuse of chemicals to poor hygiene during processing, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to potential food safety risks. With every country at a different stage of economic development and with differing priorities related to food safety, the process for enhancing or modernizing one’s food safety system looks vastly different around the globe. Throughout the development process, many of the actions taken and decisions made are with consideration given to the formative work of the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex).
In this third of our eight-part series, we will explore the next two of the 16 core guiding principles of a food control system: risk-based, science-based and evidence-based decision-making, and harmonization.
Risk-based, science-based and evidence-based decision-making
When appropriate, a country’s competent authorities should make decisions within their national food control system based upon the most current scientific information, data or risk analysis principles. All of the following are examples and ways in which competent authorities can implement risk-based, science-based and evidence-based decision-making. While this list is not exhaustive, it can be a start for any country:
- Consider basing one’s national food control system on Codex standards to assure a science-based approach.
- Consider developing and using a standardized approach to risk analysis.
- Further guidance on this can be referenced from the Codex "Working Principles for Risk Analysis for Food Safety for Application by Governments" (CAC/GL 62-2007).
- When risk analysis data is not present, consider basing control programs on technical and scientific data that has been established with current knowledge and practices.
- A risk-based approach for imported products may include exporter certification of effective preventive controls, supply chain management, inspection and enforcement, along with a screening tool to target higher-risk shipments for examination when they enter the country.
Ultimately, the level of food safety regulatory requirements should be proportionate to the level of risk that is associated with the target food or food ingredient.
Did you know?
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses the Predictive Risk-Based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting (PREDICT) system. PREDICT is a risk-based screening tool for imports to assist entry reviewers in targeting higher-risk shipments for examination. It also expedites the clearance of lower-risk cargo, but only if accurate and complete data are provided by importers and entry filers. This tool is an example leveraging risk-based decision-making within one’s national food control system.
Harmonization is the establishment, recognition and application by different countries of sanitary measures based on common standards. When designing and applying a food control system, the competent authority should consider Codex standards, recommendations and guidelines whenever appropriate as elements of their national food control system. Standards, recommendations or guidelines from other international inter-governmental organizations whose membership is open to all countries may also be useful.
While there have been great strides made in food security, there is no one set of standards and guidelines that all must follow. With the complexity of consumption patterns around the globe, countries have to utilize different strategies and approaches as needed. However, aligning their practices and guidelines with international standards can help ensure the safety and integrity of products entering the market.
Consideration of these two guiding principles are just the beginning when working through the development process. Stay tuned each week as we explore the rest of the guiding principles throughout our eight-part series. Want to learn more about concepts within food safety? Check out our free, self-paced, online Food Safety Distance Learning Module which explores the history of the United States food safety system, the value of a modern food safety system, all of the core principles of a national food control system and concludes with a case study that allows learners to walk through a fictional country’s journey to modernize their food safety system. Visit spscourses.com today to sign up for a free account and access this module and so much more! Visit the FSN home page to learn more.