Kathryn McConnell, USINFO Staff WriterU.S. food import safety officials and the food industry are proposing to ramp up federal regulation of imported food and ingredients to address the risk that unsafe products could enter the United States.
U.S. agencies charged with overseeing food import safety are expected to forward to President Bush in November recommended actions that food producers, distributors, importers and regulators should take to strengthen food safety. The recommendations will focus on developing more scientific and analytic tools to allow better identification of potential risks, to monitor the effectiveness of prevention measures and to increase use of information technology for inspection and surveillance.
The recommendations also will aim to reduce the time between detecting and containing a food-borne illness, David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told a House Appropriations subcommittee in September.
The food industry's largest trade group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), has unveiled its proposal for more regulation. It reflects awareness among industry leaders that U.S. companies, as imports rise, face increasing challenges to ensure the quality and safety of food sold to U.S. consumers. The GMA proposal would require all U.S. food importers to adopt a foreign supplier quality assurance program and verify that imported products meet FDA food safety requirements.
GMA President Cal Dooley said industry wants to work with government to strengthen and modernize the U.S. system of regulating the safety of food imports. Working in partnership with government, "industry can apply its vast knowledge and practical experience along the entire supply chain to prevent problems before they arise," he said.