US revamps food safety strategies

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Food and drug administration

The US government this week announced wide sweeping plans to
improve the safety of the nation's food supply, with measures
including more stringent inspections, stronger penalties and
mandatory recalls.

Two plans were unveiled on Tuesday, one to prevent contamination in the domestic food chain, and one to ensure the safety of imported food. Food Protection Plan ​The US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Food Protection Plan is built around three core elements: prevention, intervention and response. It will promote increased corporate responsibility, increased collaboration and communication with stakeholders, and a broad risk-based approach to food protection. Under the plan, FDA will also be able to issue additional preventive controls for high-risk foods, accredit third parties for voluntary food inspections, increase access to food records during emergencies, and issue a mandatory recall if voluntary recalls are not effective. "FDA must keep pace with this transformation so that the safety of the nation's food supply remains second to none. The Food Protection Plan calls for effective action before an outbreak occurs,"​ said FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach at a press conference in Washington, DC, where he presented the plan. The Food Protection Plan was developed in response to a request in May this year by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Commissioner of Food and Drugs for a new comprehensive strategy to maximize the safety of FDA-regulated food products. Import Safety Action Plan ​On the same day, the Bush Administration's Import Safety Working Group issued an action plan designed to complement the domestic food safety strategy. The Import Safety Action Plan comprises short- and long-term recommendations to enhance the safety of the increasing volume of imports entering the United States. Amongst measures outlined by the plan is the creation of a stronger certification process in exporting countries, a greater US presence overseas, and stronger penalties for those responsible for selling unsafe products. "For many years, we have relied on a strategy based on identifying unsafe products at the border. The problem is that the growing volume of products coming into our country makes this approach increasingly unreliable,"​ said President Bush on Tuesday. "The working group recommended that we adopt a smarter and more effective approach that focuses on prevention - building safety into products from the very beginning of the supply chain. Under this approach, we will focus on stopping dangerous products from reaching our border in the first place - for example, by ensuring that food and consumer products meet our standards for safety before they leave their home countries."​ The new food safety plans have received the support of the nation's food industry, with trade body Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) saying it has also "embraced"​ FDA's proposal of mandatory recalls. To access the Food Protection Plan, click here​. To access the Action Plan for Import Safety, click here​.

Related topics: Food safety

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