FDA to host food safety summit on e-commerce 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Sept. 3 issued a Federal Register notice to announce a three-day public meeting to discuss the safety of human and animal foods sold online and delivered directly to consumers.

The virtual summit will take place on Oct. 19-21, and is designed to help FDA improve its understanding of how human and animal foods are sold through Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce models across the U.S. and globally. 

Convening the summit is a goal set in FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. FDA states the number of consumers ordering food online has been steadily increasing over the years, and it has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic according to reports of consumer buying patterns. The blueprint goal is to convene a summit to identify courses of action to address potential food safety vulnerabilities, including those that may arise in the “last mile” of delivery.

FDA intends to use what it learns during the public meeting, and from comments submitted to the Federal Register, to help determine what actions, if any, may be needed to keep consumers safe.

Topics for discussion during the summit include:
Types of B2C e-commerce models (e.g., produce and meal kit subscription services, ghost kitchens, dark stores)
Safety risks associated with foods sold through B2C e-commerce
Standards of care used by industry to control these safety risks
Types of delivery models (e.g., third-party delivery, autonomous delivery models) 
Regulatory approaches to food sold through B2C e-commerce, including challenges and gaps that need to be addressed
Labeling of foods sold through B2C e-commerce 

During the three-day event, there will be opportunities for public comment each day. Participants who wish to speak during the public comment sessions are to register as indicated in the Federal Register notice by Oct. 8. In addition, FDA will open a public docket to receive additional comments about these topics. Public comments can be submitted electronically to https://www.regulations.gov/ using Docket ID: FDA-2021-N-0929 now through Nov. 20.

There is no cost to attend the summit, but online event registration is required. Registered participants will receive details on how and when to view the summit.