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ARLINGTON, Va. - In the wake of high-profile recalls over the past 18 months, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) here said yesterday it is affirming its support to grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to mandate a recall when a company refuses or delays voluntarily recalling a product that the agencies deem to pose an imminent and substantial health risk or death to humans or animals.
FMI said granting the FDA and the USDA authority to mandate recalls should be used to enhance systems currently in place and foster clear and accurate communication.
"We are working with our trading partners and government officials to find ways to make the food recall process more timely, efficient and effective," said Tim Hammonds, FMI's president/c.e.o. "Our goal is to assure that the food available to consumers is as safe as possible wherever it is purchased and whatever its source."
FMI's annual research study released in May, U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, 2007, highlighted that the number of consumers "completely" or "somewhat confident" in the safety of supermarket food, declined from 82 percent in 2006 to 66 percent - the lowest point since 1989. Consumer confidence in restaurant food is even lower at 43 percent.
"Clearly, the unprecedented number of high-profile recalls taking place over the past 18 months is a significant contributor to this decline in confidence. These findings sent a strong message to the entire food industry," Hammonds said, adding, "We need to work across the chain of supply to be sure consumers continue to receive the high quality, affordable food they have every right to expect."