Monday, December 1, 2008

FDA Details Its Food Safety Campaign

(New York Times – Andrew Martin)

After years of being criticized for its response to food-sickness outbreaks and contaminated imports, the Food and Drug Administration is stepping up efforts to convince the public and skeptical lawmakers that it is making progress in overhauling the nation’s food defenses.

The agency 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, 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.
Read more here.