July 2, 2020
This year, we are renewing our commitment to achieve domestic mutual reliance, a seamless partnership that enables FDA and states with comparable public health systems to rely on, coordinate with, and leverage one another’s work, data, and actions to achieve a safer national food supply. Due to many collaborative activities ongoing in the United States and with our foreign regulatory partners, we have chosen to use the term “domestic mutual reliance” when discussing these collaborations with our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. The concept dates back decades under several initiatives, including the Partnership for Food Protection (PFP).
We will advance domestic mutual reliance by developing a formalized process in which FDA and states can work as one public health safety net – as trusted partners – to advance efforts already underway to further the Food Safety Modernization Act mandates and work towards achieving a national Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS). Key activities that support domestic mutual reliance include data sharing, work planning, reliance on one another’s inspection activities, and increased collaboration on recalls, outbreak response, lab support, and training.
Domestic mutual reliance requires an understanding of both state and FDA individual needs, goals, and points of collaboration. We plan to advance the work done under Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards as the foundation, and we will focus on states that have achieved full conformance. However, our underlying goal is to structure domestic mutual reliance in a way that is easily expandable to other programs and regulatory activities such as the Animal Feed Regulatory Program Standards. We will look across the joint activities of the states and the FDA to identify areas where we are already working together to develop and document collaborative procedures which will benefit the states and the FDA.
We are currently developing a multipronged approach to collaborative regulation. We continue to leverage domestic mutual reliance proofs of process to evaluate collaborative relationships such as our activities with California, Wisconsin, New York and Florida, all of which effectively demonstrate the benefits of working collaboratively. One clear result which all of these programs have shown is a need for strong channels of communication which allow for appropriate and effective information sharing. The work being performed by the PFP IT workgroup in developing new and improved data exchanges is a key mechanism in addressing this need.
The FDA will also continue to leverage our successful relationships with national regulatory and public health association partners and work groups, such as those established by the PFP, to ensure that domestic mutual reliance initiatives advance the changing public health environment. Working smarter, we will be able to leverage partner agencies to improve industry compliance with a goal of reducing human and animal foodborne illness outbreaks, reducing redundancy and duplication of effort, driving efficiencies, and increasing public health protection in the IFSS. We will encourage cross-training between agencies and provide a multiplier effect through increasing our reach to educate and enhance compliance with food safety standards and eliminating unnecessary inspections and regulatory oversight.
Domestic mutual reliance will reflect the ideal of a fully integrated domestic food safety regulatory oversight program. Through this initiative, we will move toward a workforce where we leverage our collective expertise and resources to increase protection of public health.