E-commerce

FDA Holds Summit on E-Commerce and Food Safety – JD Supra

Summary

Key issues discussed during the meeting include online labeling, last mile traceability, and adequate training and knowledge among shopping and delivery workers. This memorandum provides a summary of the key takeaways from the summit.

FDA is accepting electronically-submitted public comments through November 20, 2021, to docket FDA-2021-N-0929. Please see Appendix A for a list of questions about which FDA seeks comments.

Background & Scope

On October 19-21, 2021, FDA he…….

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Key issues discussed during the meeting include online labeling, last mile traceability, and adequate training and knowledge among shopping and delivery workers. This memorandum provides a summary of the key takeaways from the summit.

FDA is accepting electronically-submitted public comments through November 20, 2021, to docket FDA-2021-N-0929. Please see Appendix A for a list of questions about which FDA seeks comments.

Background & Scope

On October 19-21, 2021, FDA held the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Summit on E-Commerce: Ensuring the Safety of Foods Ordered Online and Delivered Directly to Consumers. The meeting brought together federal, state, and local regulatory partners and a range of stakeholders, including industry, consumers, health organizations, academia, and international regulatory counterparts to discuss food safety concerns and areas of potential improvement for regulatory oversight specific to e-commerce.i The agency intended the summit to be the beginning of a continuing conversation regarding food safety and e-commerce.

The summit is part of FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, which seeks to modernize the Agency’s approach to food safety.ii There was a focus on new business models, such as Business to Consumer (“B2C”) e-commerce (e.g., online grocery shopping and food delivery services).

The summit featured speaker presentations followed by roundtable Q&A sessions. Food safety and regulatory challenges related to the following prevalent B2C models were discussed:

  • Produce and meal kit subscription and delivery services delivered by mail.
  • “Ghost kitchen” facilities that do not have a storefront or dining area and are used only to prepare food for restaurants, other delivery, or catering businesses. Multiple businesses may operate out of a single location.
  • “Dark store” fulfilment centers that fulfil delivery and pickup orders without in-store retail services.
  • Third-party food delivery services that deliver food in “the last mile” between a restaurant and consumer.

Summit Highlights

Food Safety Risks

The following food safety concerns were discussed during the summit.

  • Traceability in the “last mile”: Speakers raised traceability as a top priority, especially concerns with the lack of traceability in last-mile delivery. For example, if adulteration were to occur during delivery and the third-party delivery service is delivering for multiple restaurants or companies, state health agencies noted they would have a difficult time tracing the adulteration to the individual deliverer. As another example, meal-kits containing repackaged ingredients may not carry through labeling with identifying information like lot codes.
  • Safe delivery and temperature control of perishable foods: Both industry and government raised concerns about the safe delivery of perishable foods, particularly with respect to ensuring that restaurant foods, grocery deliveries, and kit or produce deliveries are delivered to and received by the consumer at safe temperatures. Concerns raised include the following: