There are a number of product safety challenges and risks facing the food and drink industry in the US, including balancing innovative products with regulatory compliance. Here, we explore what these risks are, how companies can prepare, how the recall landscape is evolving and our predictions for the future.

What Do You See as the Biggest Product Safety Challenges and Risks Facing the Food and Drink Industry?

Risks From Novel Foods and Health Claims

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US continues to issue warning letters for food products with novel ingredients, such as CBD. Any substance added to food is a food additive and must either be submitted for premarket review and approval, or be generally recognized as safe among qualified experts (GRAS). CBD generally is not recognized as GRAS or approved by FDA for use in food; therefore, food with CBD is prohibited from entering interstate commerce. Further, some companies add product claims that imply treatment/mitigation of a disease or effects on the structure/function of the body – causing the food to qualify as a new drug or a dietary supplement. Entities seeking to enter into the CBD market in the US, for humans or animal food products, should carefully assess the risks and engage legal counsel to review the products and claims being used.

Food and drink businesses in the US increasingly seek to cater to health-conscious consumers with claims such as “gluten-free,” “dairy-free,” or highlighting a lack of artificial flavors, etc. Industry participants need to be aware that each of these claims may be subject to FDA regulation. Consumers with allergies or dietary restrictions need to be able to rely on the veracity of such claims. For example, FDA is expected to release guidance on the Labeling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives: Draft Guidance for the Industry. The question of whether plant-based products, such as almond and oat milk, can be classified as a “milk” as part of their statement of identity has been a hotly contested issue in the US.

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