Members of the new White House Food Safety Working Group outlined their plans and priorities to industry stakeholders including PMA during an April 24 conference call. On March 14, President Barack Obama announced the creation of the working group, chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to, to advise him on how to upgrade U.S. food safety laws for the 21st century, foster coordination throughout government, and ensure enforcement.
Officials from the working group stressed that the process will be inclusive, and mentioned the importance of using risk- and science-based efforts. They noted that the group will examine administrative actions, regulatory efforts (under existing authority), and the legislative process as it works to improve government-related food safety in the United States.
The group’s priority areas are:
* to prevent harm to consumers – verify and enforce existing rules;
* to enable risk analysis and detection – surveillance, notifications, better technology to link and manage food safety efforts;
* to implement risk-based inspections and enforcement, including verification that those inspected are following the rules;
* to improve rapid outbreak response and recovery – seamless coordination with states and other countries as needed; and
* to ensure the proper workforce and infrastructure to be effective.
Officials acknowledged that this is a big task, saying though they have many resources, they know they don’t have all the information they need and new challenges will emerge. They said they want to see a robust dialogue on food safety.
We’re encouraged to see the Obama administration reaching out to stakeholders and taking a risk-based approach to food safety. PMA will remain engaged and involved in this process as the administration moves forward with this effort. Visit PMA’s Web site for food safety resources.