Quick Stats

Quick Stats

    You are here

    FRESH FOOD SAFETY:<br />Trade Groups Cheer White House Plan to Tighten Food Safety Standards

    The Obama administration yesterday took the first step toward overhauling and modernizing the country’s food safety system, including stricter rules for the production of eggs, poultry, beef, leafy greens, melons and tomatoes.

    The Obama administration yesterday took the first step toward
    overhauling and modernizing the country’s food safety system, including
    stricter rules for the production of eggs, poultry, beef, leafy greens,
    melons and tomatoes.
     
    The new proposals, recommended by the Food Safety Working Group created by
    President Obama in March, emphasize prevention, enforcement and improving
    the government’s response time to food safety outbreaks with a central goal
    of reducing cases of salmonella and E. coli contamination. The Food and Drug
    Administration will also be charged with helping the food industry establish
    better tracing systems in the event of an outbreak, to quickly pinpoint the
    origins of an outbreak.
     
    “There are few responsibilities more basic or more important for the
    government than making sure the food our families eat is safe,: said Vice
    President Joseph Biden during a White House news conference on Tuesday,
    where he was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
    and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “American families have enough to
    worry about today. They should not have [food safety] as a concern.”
     
    Noting that “[t]here isn’t a single American that isn’t impacted by our
    efforts to protect the food supply,” Secretary Vilsack said, “We owe it to
    the American people to … greatly enhance our food safety system, moving our
    approach into the 21st century, employing the best surveillance techniques
    available and ensuring that we are doing all we can to prevent illness
    before it occurs.”
     
    Among the working group’s specific steps designed to advance its core
    principles:
     
    HHS and USDA will target salmonella contamination by developing tougher
    standards to protect the safety of eggs, poultry, and turkey
     
    To fight the threat of E. coli, USDA will step up enforcement in beef
    facilities, while the FDA will develop new industry guidance improving
    protections for leafy greens, melons and tomatoes
     
    Building a new national traceback and response system including clearer
    industry guidance, a new unified incident command system, and improved use
    of technology to deliver individual food safety alerts to consumers
     
    The administration also revealed plans to strengthen the organization of
    federal food safety functions, including the creation of new positions at
    key food safety agencies and a continuing oversight role for the Food Safety
    Working Group.
     
    Various industry trade groups applauded the news, including the Food
    Marketing Institute, which said it “fully support[s] the extensive effort by
    the White House Food Safety Working Group to launch new and improved safety
    standards to protect Americans from foodborne illness. We are pleased that
    the White House will focus on prevention, rapid response, and increased and
    improved communications, as this is what will be the essential factors for
    ensuring food safety.”
     
    The United Fresh Produce Association was also gratified to see key produce
    industry objectives incorporated in the new food safety recommendations.
    Noting that the changes in policy “demonstrate how the government and the
    food industry can work together to make meaningful and practical food safety
    improvements,” Tom Stenzel, United Fresh’s president and CEO, said the new
    plan “embraces several key recommendations advanced by United Fresh to help
    ensure that food safety initiatives address produce industry priorities” and
    set a strong foundation for the food safety legislative work on Capitol
    Hill.
     
    GMA President and CEO Pamela Bailey concurred. “Food safety and consumer
    confidence is the No. 1 priority for the food and beverage industry -- we
    are responsible for providing our consumers with the safest manufactured
    goods possible, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
     
    All three groups pledged continued support to working with the Obama
    administration and Congress to enact reforms that will improve food safety,
    boost consumer confidence and address the challenges posed by the food
    supply.

    Related Content

    Related Content