The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collaborated with the Conference of Food Protection (CFP) to release food safety best practices for third-party delivery services.
These recommendations focus on key parameters companies should consider when delivering food to consumers.
The release of food safety best practices for third-party delivery services are recommendations focused on key parameters companies should consider when delivering food to consumers. They address the safety of foods ordered online and delivered directly to consumers, which is a priority outlined in the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint.
Consumers are increasingly ordering food from a variety of online retailers, including produce and meal-kit subscription services, ghost kitchens (which only prepare and fulfill orders for delivery, without a physical storefront), and third-party delivery services and programs.
The best practices document identifies mitigating measures to potential food safety vulnerabilities, including those that may arise in the “last mile” of delivery, with the last mile referring to the final leg of the food’s journey to consumers’ homes.
This guidance document provides food safety best practices that include preventive controls, mechanisms to assess risk, recommendations for proper packaging, temperature control, physical and chemical contamination control, and allergen control.
The 49-page document provides food safety best practices for managing or performing Direct to Consumer (DTC) or third-party delivery (TPD) services.
“This document,” it says, ” includes parameters critical to preventive controls, mechanisms to assess risk, validation and verification practices, recommendations for proper packaging, temperature control, receiving and storage, physical and chemical contamination control, allergen control, general food safety information, and suggestion for return of compromised and abused products. The intent of the guide is primarily to provide best practices for preventing biological, physical, and chemical contamination as well as the growth of harmful bacteria and/or the formation of toxins within the food being transported.”
“The methods by which foods reach the final consumer can vary significantly, and this guidance is not intended to provide a “one-size-fits-all” approach,” it continues. “This guidance aims to review some of the essential parameters that any company should consider in providing safe foods to the consumer. Companies should research, understand, and test the methods best suited to their specific operation.”
CFP, a non-profit organization created in 1971, provides a formal process for the food industry, state and local health departments, academia, and consumer organizations to submit input in the development and/or modification of recommended national retail food safety policy, which is incorporated into state, local, tribal, and territorial food safety laws and regulations, upon adoption of the FDA Food Code. It also identifies and addresses emerging problems associated with food safety.
This collaboration is one example of how the FDA, in its New Era of Smarter Food Safety, is engaging with both industry and all stakeholders to help ensure food safety as new business models emerge and change to meet the needs of the modern consumer.
Another example is the three-day public meeting the FDA held in October 2021 to discuss the safety of foods ordered online and delivered directly to consumers. The response showed that this is an issue that crosses age, economic and national divides. More than 4,000 people registered to attend, and 15,400 watched online.
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