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Obama Administration Calls for Industry Input to Improve Food Safety

May 18, 2009

The administration's Food Safety Working Group launched its first listening session last week by unveiling a new website and the five food safety principles that will guide its efforts. IDFA attended the White House meeting and provided the dairy processors' perspective, including member opposition to user fees for routine food safety inspections.

Co-chairs Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, opened the session with a call for increased emphasis on prevention and enhanced inspections. They announced five core principles the group will use when considering changes to existing regulations and the current food safety bills pending in Congress.

  • Strengthen efforts to prevent food-borne contamination;
  • Bolster surveillance and risk analysis, data gathering and rapid detection;
  • Implement risk-based inspection and enforcement;
  • Respond rapidly to outbreaks and facilitate recovery;
  • Target resources effectively.

IDFA Senior Director Ruth Saunders conveyed the association's position on these principles, explaining the rigorous food safety protocols employed by the dairy industry and the fundamental reasons why food companies should not pay for additional government inspections.

During the next few weeks, the working group will gather public comments and recommend immediate steps that can be taken through executive orders and regulations. The group also will define the administration's positions on current food safety legislative proposals.

"I encourage members to provide suggestions directly through the group's new website, or they may provide feedback to me and I will convey their comments," Saunders said. She can be reached at or 202-220-3553.

A summary of the discussion and a video link are available at


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