FDA Issues 2017 Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards

Mar 07, 2018 | Michelle Shapiro

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the 2017 edition of the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards), which define the key elements of an effective retail food regulatory program for state, local, tribal, and territorial food regulatory agencies.

The Retail Program Standards provide recommendations for designing and managing these retail food regulatory programs and help these regulatory agencies (or other responsible organizations) identify program areas in need of improvement, and facilitate more effective inspections and foodborne illness prevention strategies.

The 2017 edition of the Retail Program Standards incorporates changes based on recommendations discussed at the Conference for Food Protection 2016 Biennial Meeting and other minor editorial changes.

These changes include:

  • Updates to the Training Standard definition
  • Clarification to the standardizing and re-standardizing criteria for Food Safety Inspection Officers (FSIOs)
  • Alignment of program elements in Retail Program Standard 4 with the performance elements and competencies contained in Retail Program Standard 2, resulting in 20 program elements and an increase in the minimum number of required field assessments
  • Incorporation of additional methods of recognizing communication efforts with industry and the community
  • Consolidation of the facility categories that can be used when conducting a risk factor study
  • Consolidation of reporting forms, FDA Forms 3519 and 3520, into one single FDA Form 3598

The FDA encourages government agencies responsible for regulation or oversight of the retail food establishments that sell, serve or vend food directly to the public to enroll in the Retail Program Standards. Enrollment in the Retail Program Standards conveys a jurisdiction’s intent to actively use the Retail Program Standards as a tool to assess and improve its retail food regulatory program. If a jurisdiction enrolls in the program and works towards strengthening its own program through enrollment, it can also apply for federal funding to further assist their efforts. A jurisdiction can, however, use the worksheets and materials without enrolling in the Retail Program Standards.

The procedure for enrolling can be found at Administrative Procedures for Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards. A complete list of jurisdictions enrolled in the Retail Program Standards is available at Listing of Jurisdictions Enrolled in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards. The FDA Regional Retail Food Specialists and officials from FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition can answer questions about the Retail Program Standards at RetailFoodPolicyTeam@fda.hhs.gov.


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About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro is a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

More posts by Michelle Shapiro

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