Web Date: September 12, 2007
New Strategy For Food Import Safety
The federal task force appointed by President George W. Bush to review the procedures for keeping food imports safe issued its initial report this week. The so-called strategy framework emphasizes the need for more accountability and enforcement on food imports while also promoting technological innovation and collaboration (www.importsafety.gov).
The Interagency Working Group on Import Safety was established in July because of highly publicized instances this year of illegal food imports, especially adulterated pet food and contaminated seafood. Chaired by Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, the group was charged with reviewing federal, state, and local practices with respect to imports.
Basically, the report states that the present intervention, border-focused strategy on food imports needs to change to a plan that stresses a life-cycle, risk-based approach to prevention of importation of unsafe products. This interim report is short on specifics, but the working group will be holding meetings on implementing this strategy and will issue a final action plan in November.
Rep. Rose L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), who has been pushing for changes in import enforcement, hopes the coming action plan is more detailed. "The action plan should detail how bad actors will be held accountable, how strict standards will be enforced, and how such a system will be funded," she said in a statement.
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