The Food and Drug Administration and USDA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to help prevent interruptions at FDA-regulated food facilities, including fruit and vegetable processing, the agencies announced Tuesday.

Under the MOU, USDA has agreed to consult with FDA if that agency finds an existing or potential disruption in the food supply chain. Under an Executive Order issued last month, USDA was given authority to use the Defense Production Act to address shortages not just of meat and poultry but throughout the food supply chain.

The MOU says once FDA identifies a potential or existing disruption to the supply of FDA-regulated food “of sufficient likelihood, seriousness or significance,” it will contact USDA “to discuss appropriate action, including possibly invoking its delegated DPA authorities.”

“FDA maintains broad responsibility for ensuring that food is not adulterated or misbranded,” regulating “food resource facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods, with the exception of certain establishments that are regulated exclusively by USDA,” such as meat and poultry plants.

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