The time to modernize the food protection system as it prepares for the growing challenges and complexities of a global food supply is upon us. With the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)—that mandates the integration of the food safety system and support for the development of a food protection training institute—the sys- tem is finally getting an overhaul. With this overhaul comes a focus on the training needed to support the system. The benefits of improving the quality of regulatory work on the front lines are now considered a crucial part of a shared responsibility to protect the food supply. The new focus on training has stemmed from ongoing concerns that technology has outpaced traditional regula- tory approaches. Imports and fragile supply chains chal- lenge regulatory expertise. Staff turnover in both federal and state food protection agencies has significantly di- minished regulatory food safety knowledge and skill. This loss of institutional memory, coupled with the growing complexity of food production, processing and distribution systems, requires greater specializa- tion of staff and new team approaches that cross tra- ditional and jurisdictional boundaries. As preventable foodborne outbreaks continue with rapid frequency, the cost of foodborne illness to the economy and the public’s health and confi- dence is a growing concern. Gaping holes in the food safety system are not a new problem. People from grassroots to government have been de- manding changes to the current system for years. The call to create a national integrated food safety system, supported by a national training academy, was made more than 12 years ago; nei- ther ever materialized. Until now.
APRIL n MAY 2011