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Testifying yesterday before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Oversight and Investigation on the recent salmonella outbreak, the Grocery Manufacturers Association's chief science officer, Robert Brackett, emphasized the industry's commitment to food safety and offered the trade group's recommendations for bolstering the current food safety system.
"The recent investigation into the foodborne illnesses outbreak due to Salmonella Saintpaul is the latest event to challenge our food safety system," noted Brackett. "In addition to adequately funding the FDA, it is critically important that Congress modernize our food safety system by making risk and the prevention of contamination the focus of our food safety strategies."
Among the reforms Brackett outlined during his testimony were:
--Giving FDA the power to set food safety standards for particular fruits and vegetables that have repeatedly been involved in food safety incidents.
--Requiring food companies to have a food safety plan based on a food safety risk evaluation that identifies potential sources of contamination and appropriate food safety controls, verifies that the controls are effective, and documents the controls in a food safety plan subject to FDA review.
--Requiring every food importer to police foreign suppliers by such means as a food safety risk evaluation.
--Building the capacity of foreign governments and enlisting assistance from the private sector.
Many of the recommendations are included in legislation already introduced in the House and Senate, to address the current weaknesses of the food safety system.