After a three week delay, food facilities are now able to register, or re-register, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Late last week the agency released revised guidance for industry to help food companies comply. Though the FDA is a bit behind the schedule mandated under the Food Safety Modernization Act, the deadline for food facilities to register is still Dec. 31.
Food facilities are required to register with FDA – as part of the 2002 Bioterrorism Act – whether or not food from the facility enters interstate commerce. Under FSMA, facilities must provide more information to the government and re-register every even-numbered year.
According to the updated guidance, FDA believes that facility registration will help make for a “quick, accurate, and focused response” to bioterrorism or other food-related emergencies.
The agency gives one example of how this registration system can be useful. Let’s say FDA receives information that soft drinks could be a target of bioterrorism. With an updated registry, FDA is able to alert soft drink manufacturers, processors, packers and holders about the potential problems and coordinate a response.
So which businesses are considered food facilities? According to the guidance, it’s any firm that manufactures, processes, packs or holds food for human or animal consumption in the United States.
At last count, FDA oversees more than 421,121 registered domestic and foreign food facilities. In August, FDA told Congress that out of 167,033 registered domestic facilities, the agency and states under contract inspected 19,073. Out of 254,088 registered foreign facilities, FDA and states under contract inspected 995.
For more information on registering a business with FDA, see the agency’s page, which includes a Frequently Asked Questions section.