COLORADO SPRINGS - The necessity of an industry approach to the maintenance of consumer confidence and the promotion of sustainability and health and wellness was stressed here yesterday by Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association to retailer and manufacturer attendees at GMA/FPA's 2007 Merchandising, Sales and Marketing Conference. "It's incumbent on us as industry to launch efforts that are going to enhance our already strong products," said Dooley. "If the industry doesn't provide alternatives to possible measures, we'll be left vulnerable." He pointed to GMA's recently proposed Four Pillars food safety program that focuses on prevention rather than inspections. "The overwhelming majority of products are safe but we must acknowledge that there are some problems and do more to ensure that we're using qualified suppliers, that there is proper testing as well as enhance the capacity of our regulatory agencies," he said. Alternatives presented to Congress involve limiting imported products to 13 ports equipped with Food and Drug Administration labs, Dooley noted. There are currently over 350 ports of entry. "The supply chain disruption involved with such a plan would be immeasurable," he said. Dooley also called on conference attendees to enhance the sustainability of their business practices. "We can do it in a way that will benefit our consumers and the bottom line," he said, "but we're going to have to agree on a common metric to measure it." He also highlighted the importance of common applications that deliver health and wellness information to consumers. He pointed to the Take a Peak program which was introduced in January by GMA and the Food Marketing Institute to help customers translate the government's nutritional pyramid, in-store.
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