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HHS Secretary Unveils Plans to Strengthen Import and Food Safety Efforts

Nov 13, 2007

HHS Secretary Unveils Plans to Strengthen Import and Food Safety Efforts

The Presidential Interagency Working Group on Import Safety, chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, announced its Action Plan for Import Safety: A Roadmap for Continual Improvement on November 6. The plan outlines both short- and long-term recommended federal actions to address the safety of all imports, including food, drugs, toys and other consumer products.

On the same day, Leavitt also announced the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Food Protection Plan, a comprehensive initiative designed to bolster efforts to protect the nation's food supply. This plan covers both imported and domestic products. The common organizational themes in both plans are prevention, intervention and response. Each plan intends to prevent harm before it can occur, intervene at key points in the food production system, and respond immediately when problems are identified. Within these areas of protection, the plans contain a number of action steps as well as a set of legislative proposals.

The food-specific plan addresses counterterrorism and food defense, in addition to unintentional contamination. Among other proposals, FDA is seeking legislative authority for mandatory recalls.

"While IDFA is pleased that several of the recommendations it submitted in comments to the Presidential working group were incorporated into the government plans, we cautiously note that we are at the beginning stages of a complex process, and there may be unforeseen consequences that will demand close scrutiny at every stage as things progress," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs.

IDFA's recommendations included developing sound risk management practices that wouldn't hamper international trade, making better use of information technology to gather and share import data, and working with other nations to ensure that they are taking precautions to prevent unsafe or adulterated food from entering the global market. To read the previous News Update story, "IDFA Submits Comments on Food Import Safety to Federal Working Group," click here.

"The safety of imports and the food supply are clearly major issues on both the administration and congressional agendas, but how the two viewpoints will be rectified and what the ensuing ramifications on industry will be have yet to be determined," Detlefsen added.

To read the Action Plan for Import Safety, click here. To read the Food Protection Plan, click here.

For more information on these plans, contact Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, at or 202-220-3554.



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Posted November 13, 2007


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