Friday, June 26, 2009 by Kathy Means
FDA wants our help on collaboration, communications
FDA asked me how PMA can help the agency better communicate an “all clear” after a foodborne illness outbreak. Agency leaders also asked how industry involvement could speed investigations without compromising sensitive information. We’ll be following up with written comments on specific recommendations on those topics and more as a follow-up to oral comments I gave at a June 24 hearing on how the agency can be more transparent.
In the wake of recent high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks, PMA and others have been working with FDA and CDC on improving communication and collaboration. Speaking at this hearing was one more opportunity to share our ideas. I recommended that FDA consult industry experts, both during calm times and during outbreaks, to better understand produce production and distribution and speed investigations. I also reiterated our call to improve state and local health departments’ capabilities and capacity as their involvement early in outbreaks is crucial, and inaccurate information and delays cause a great deal of trouble. Finally, I called on FDA to be as explicit about “all clears” when an outbreak ends as they are when they announce that consumers should avoid certain foods when the outbreak begins.
What encouraged me most about the questions they asked was their eagerness to work together. In particular they asked for our help on that “all clear” message protocol. Not only did the top officials on the panel ask about it, an agency staffer in the audience came up to me later to ask whether we could help with some sort of template for such a thing. We’re making progress.
Tags: Food Safety