F.D.A. details its food safety campaign
Posted: November 30th, 2008 - 8:00pm by Doug Powell
Andrew Martin of the N.Y. Times has just reported on-line and in tomorrow’s print editions that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will release a report Monday that summarizes what officials call a “hugely ambitious” campaign to reshape its food inspection arm to root out safety hazards through things like sophisticated software and certifiers from the private sector.
“The goal is to radically redesign the process,” said Dr. David Acheson (right, exactly as shown), the agency’s associate commissioner for foods. For imported food, for instance, that means trying to detect tainted products during the production process rather than waiting until they enter the country.
“We cannot simply rely on picking the ball up at the point of entry,” Dr. Acheson said.
The changes were first outlined in the agency’s Food Protection Plan, which was released in November 2007. In June, the agency was criticized by the Government Accountability Office for failing to provide details on the costs or specific strategies for carrying out the plan. Some lawmakers have repeatedly called the agency’s food protection efforts inadequate.
Governments can only do so much, and auditors or other third-party certifiers have been sorta miserable – a lot of foodborne illness outbreaks are linked back to farms, processors and retailers that went through some form of certification. What’s needed are the proper mixture of carrots and sticks to foster a food safety culture at all points of the farm-to-fork food safety system. My friend, Frank, wrote a new book about food safety culture. But more about that tomorrow, or in a few days, depending on when this baby decides to arrive.